Ethical Forestry Investor Group gains momentum in wake of timber investment’s liquidation as pressure mounts for an SFO investigation
Unhappy and concerned investors in troubled Costa Rican timber investment Ethical Forestry have continued to unify in the form of a growing online Ethical Forestry investor group forum, with intensifying calls for the SFO to get involved.
The Ethical Forestry Investor group, which was established shortly after the appointment of Joint Liquidators from HJS solutions back in December 2015, has since swelled to over 300 investors who are still waiting to discover the fate of their money, much of which was invested via a SIPP, or Self-Invested Personal Pension to give it its full name.
Ethical Forestry Liquidation
Bournemouth based Ethical Forestry went into liquidation back in December 2015, and as of yet there has been no clear reason provided to investors as to why this has happened.
Featuring a minimum investment of £18,000 to buy a plot of 600 trees, glossy brochures and advice from IFAs indicated that investors could look forward to returns over £100,000 in around 12 years once the trees were harvested and sold on the global timber market.
Supposedly SIPP friendly, Ethical Forestry was an unregulated investment and therefore did NOT fall under the watchful jurisdiction of the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), meaning that worried investors cannot benefit from the FSCS safety net should the investment fail, leaving them high-and-dry should the trees not pay their promised returns.
A recent letter (9thMay 2016) from Joint Liquidator Shane Biddlecombe (now a familiar name to investors who are in-the-know) gave voice to a Mr Christopher Brookes, an active member of the Ethical Forestry Investor Group who praised the initiative taken by investors on the forum, as well as the proposal recently put forward by Robert Brown who is leading the race to purchase Ethical Forestry’s tree management project – something that more optimistic investors believe may be the investment’s saving grace.
Mr Brookes took the time to also offer his own “personal proposal” too, both directing investors towards the forum, and to use it as a tool to develop an investor buy-out proposal as a back-up to the progress made by Mr Brown.
There were around 3000 investors for Ethical Forestry, where is everyone?
Despite the forum membership shooting past 300 since the letter from Mr Biddlecombe was released, many investors will still be left wondering… where is everybody else?
For an investor buy-out to be successful, as many people as possible would surely have to be involved in order to generate the necessary capital to make a buy-out viable.
But this apparent lack of interest from investors who have not yet engaged with the forum might actually be a lack of awareness of the problem:
At Get Claims Advice, we are still speaking to people months later who have only just discovered their Ethical Forestry investment is in trouble, and one theory COULD relate to how these investments were sold, or in some-cases, mis-sold.
To be advised to invest in an unregulated investment such as EF, a client seeking advice from an IFA SHOULD be a Sophisticated Investor (with a high level of expertise and knowledge of investments) and be a high-net worth individual (earning over £100k per year). If advisers had ALL stuck to these rules, surely awareness of the issue wouldn’t be such an issue, leaving a total investor profile full of experienced individuals who would have spotted problems early on, and probably joined the group.
However, as we see at Get Claims Advice, SIPP investors with Ethical Forestry often don’t fit this profile, and we are currently pursuing a large number of mis-sold SIPP claims against IFA’s who appear to have given poor advice to unsuitable investors regarding Ethical Forestry.
In the meantime, investors will sadly continue to feel anxious as their financial futures remain bleak.