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Keydata cash could be in the rainforest

Assets may have been used to buy land in Brazil

Substantial rainforest investments made by SLS founder David Elias may be the key to recovering Keydata’s missing assets, according to an insurer which invested in the Luxemburg vehicle.

Brunei insurer Orion Life chief executive Bruno Geissmann was told by Elias, the man at the heart of the Keydata fraud probe, that some life settlement assets had been sold to purchase thousands of acres of Brazilian rainforest.

The pair met in March last year, two months before Elias’ death, to discuss Orion’s direct investments into SLS Capital SA and Life Settlements Capital SA and why interest payments from the vehicles had stopped in late 2008.

Geissmann says: “At that stage, we wanted to know what the heck was going on because they did not pay the coupons, the interest so we wanted to see their financial figures and get an explanation. There were no suspicions at all at that stage.”

In a recent note to advisers, seen by Money Marketing, Orion financial director Christopher Chong says information suggests there are 320,000 hectares of land which have a £32m logging value and £;77m annual carbon credit value. The note says the land was bought for £8m three years ago but it is not known what funds were used.

Geissmann says it is too early to speculate on what sums may be recoverable but that he believes rainforest assets have been found of “quite substantial value”.

He says: “I met with David Elias in March, two months before he died. Elias said that some assets had been sold – but not how much or from which company – and that other investments like this rainforest land had been made, but no details. We insisted on details but we did not receive them.”

A sale of Keydata collapsed in July last year after administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers uncovered information that suggested that £103m of assets invested by the firm with Luxemburg investment vehicle SLS had been “liquidated and may have been misappropriated”.

Vintage Financial director Geoff Hartnell says: “I do not know how far Yann Baden, who is SLS and LSC liquidator, has got with this but he has this information, as has the Serious Fraud Office, and it would be nice if we could find out whether they are pursuing this as a viable avenue or if it is a red herring.”

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