Three brothers, Barinua Carr Nwikpo, John Ekpobari Nwikpo, and Daniel Nwikpo, as well as another man, Bradley Peter Ferry, have been disqualified for 14 years each for operating a land banking and carbon credit scam through Tullett Brown Ltd.
The Nwikpo brothers all signed undertakings not to act as company directors or be involved in company management for 14 years, beginning on April 22. Bradley Peter Ferry had already made a 14-year commitment on October 24, 2014.
As part of the scam, all four men used aliases: Barinua Nwikpo was known as Bari Carr, John Nwikpo was known as John Stone, and Daniel Nwikpo was known as Daniel Fox and also Daniel Peters. Brad Baker was Mr Ferry’s given name.
Tullett Brown operated out of Houndsditch in the City, selling greenbelt land and carbon credits (Voluntary Emission Reductions or VERs) to members of the public for investment purposes. Daniel Nwikpo, who had previously worked at various land banking companies, came up with the idea for the company.
Following the closure of Tullett Brown by the Official Receiver in March 2012, the sale of worthless carbon credits was carried on by another of their companies, Foxstone Carr Ltd.
Mr Ferry was appointed as Tullett Brown’s sole director, but he was nothing more than a salesman acting on the Nwikpo brothers’ orders.
Land was sold in Cheadle, near Manchester, Chailey, Sussex, Billericay, Essex, and Wraysbury, Surrey. The Cheadle site was sold to investors with the expectation that it would increase in value as part of the extension of the A555 Manchester Airport Link road. Tullett Brown paid £36,000 for this 2 acre plot of land in September 2009, divided it into 28 plots, and sold them to unsuspecting victims for a total of £289,000. Stockport Council is now looking to buy the land for the airport link road and has set a price of £30,000, which is even less than Tullett Brown paid for it.
Tullett Brown charged its victims up to £24,000 for a £590 plot of land.
Between June 2009 and July 2011, the company received a total of £2,091,799 from 106 victims for land sales. The same plot of land was originally purchased by the company for £218,000. Tullett Brown’s land is unsuitable for investment, and the local authorities have stated that it cannot be developed.
Tullett Brown stopped selling land after being visited by Secretary of State investigators in 2011 and began selling carbon credits, specifically VERs, for investment proposals. Tullett Brown sold 500,000 carbon credits to approximately 400 victims for a total of £3,242,491 between May 2011 and the company’s closure in March 2012. Tullett Brown paid £600,000 for the same carbon credits from its supplier, Eco-Synergies Ltd. The investigation revealed that their supplier paid as little as 37p per carbon credit, which Tullett Brown then sold to its victims for £6.90 per carbon credit.
Foxstone Carr sold 98,500 carbon credits for a total of £523,900 between November 2011 and May 2012, at an average price of £6.67 per carbon credit supplied by Eco-Synergies Ltd.
Tullett Brown and Foxstone Carr sold the VERs as an investment with the expectation that they would increase in value and be able to be sold for a profit in the future, which they were unable to do. Regardless of the markups, there is no genuine secondary market for VERs. As a result, the victims will most likely be unable to sell their VERs and will lose money.
Among the evidence discovered by the investigator, Matthew Stone, were emails between the Nwikpo brothers in which they plotted how to divide the funds received by the company from its victims. They attempted to disguise the payments as wages, consultancy fees, and dividend payments on their shareholdings in order to make them appear legitimate. Daniel Nwikpo stated in one email, “John, what do you think of a £150,000 overall split?” I had to re-gig it so Bari gets a good whack.” Daniel and John Nwikpo each received £50,000 in that case, while Mr Ferry, Tullett Brown’s registered director, received £750.
Tullett Brown paid a total of £383,409 to Barinua Nwikpo and his so-called “consultancy” company Tamar Ltd, which was used to syphon off the victims’ funds, between June 2009 and March 2012. John Nwikpo and his company Johnnystone Ltd were awarded £678,476 in total, with Daniel Nwikpo receiving £538,294. Mr Ferry and his company, Brad Baker Ltd, received a total of £156,619 in compensation.
“The land being sold by the company was simply not suitable for investment purposes,” said Paul Titherington, a senior official receiver in the Public Interest Unit. Unfortunately, the victims were persuaded to part with their money by the company’s and its brokers’ deceptive sales tactics.
“Like many other land bankers, the scammers simply switched to selling carbon credits to the same victims.” Unfortunately, carbon credits, specifically VERs, are a worse investment than land. The Nwikpos and their salesman were the only ones who benefited from this operation.”
The disqualification regime exists to protect the public, and these disqualifications are the result of an investigation by the Public Interest Unit, a specialist team of the Insolvency Service, whose involvement began when the Official Receiver was appointed as Provisional Liquidator on the Secretary of State’s application when the petition to wind up the company on the grounds of public interest was presented following an investigation by Company Investigations.