An Essex man has been jailed for eight years after mis-selling carbon credits to 130 victims in 2012 and 2013 and using the funds to purchase luxury items for himself.
City of London Police took on the case from Essex Police, sentencing Sami Raja of Grays, Essex in Southwark Crown Court on Friday.
Raja was found guilty of six counts of conspiracy to defraud and was also found guilty of money laundering.
Along with four others, Raja mis-sold carbon credits to the 130 victims over a 20-month period between January 2012 and August 2013.
The police say victims received cold calls from apparent brokers through two companies, Harman Royce Ltd and Kendrick Zale Ltd, and were persuaded into investing in voluntary emission reductions.
The victims were all aged 50 or above and living in “affluent” postcodes, the police add.
Carbon credits were charged at between £5.26 and £6.50 with victims’ losses totalling £1.5m.
The police say: “The money paid into the Harman Royce bank account was used in many ways. This included paying staff wages and buying luxury items including an Aston Martin worth £33,000 and a £4,000 watch.
“Victims were told that they had to keep their investment in carbon credits for varying amounts of time, between four months and 10 years. They would then receive a ‘contract note’ which detailed the investment sum and how many credits this reflected.”
Victims were also provided with fake ‘carbon market analysis’ spreadsheets claiming to detail monthly changes in carbon credit prices between 2007 and 2012.
Raja was arrested at the address of Kendrick Zale Ltd in 2013 which was found to have sold around 300,000 carbon credit unites to 28 investors totalling £900,000.
The police say: “Similar tactics were used by Kendrick Zale. Victims reported receiving unsolicited phone calls from ‘brokers’ at Kendrick Zale who used high pressure sales techniques to persuade them to invest.
“In many cases, investors were persuaded to cash in Individual Savings Accounts or sell existing shares in reputable companies.”
Raja’s accomplices – Essex-based Sandeep Dosanj and Charanjit Sandhu along with Kent-based Michael Nascimento and James Lanston were sentenced to a total of 29 years in prison last September.