Director banned over £666k African stove investment

West AfricaA company director that convinced investors to contribute funds to an African stove investment scheme has been disqualified for 14 years.

According to the Insolvency Service, Mark Ayres acted as a director of Global Eco Projects in breach of an earlier director disqualification.

Under his watch the company breached financial regulations by taking investor money and then failing to protect it.

Two other directors, John Childs and Mark Cooney, were disqualified for seven years each. The disqualifications stop the men from promoting, forming or managing a company.

As part of the scheme the company asked investors to pay £666,000 for a project to help half a million families in Africa live a healthier life by giving them new cooking stoves.

The company said the free distribution of stoves would make money by obtaining “gold standard” carbon credits.

It told investors a 30 per cent interest payment of the loan would be paid 24 months and six weeks from the agreement date and daily interest would accrue at 12 per cent per year with full loan capital repaid after seven years.

The company did not put the funds in a separate account as it told investors.

Before 31 July 2013, only £32,395 was paid to the company for stoves and only 1,449 stoves were bought.

On that same date there was only £101,087 cash remaining.

Meanwhile, investment introducers charged £324,200 and, despite the company receiving £275,586 attributed to Ayres, repayments of these monies to 30 July 2013 left a balance due by Ayres of £7,886.

Insolvency Service chief investigator Mark Bruce says: “[Investors] monies were principally spent on a combination of marketing fees for sales agents and repayments of monies owed to Mr Ayres. Indeed, the entire scheme was illegal from commencement, as the marketing of debentures is a regulated investment and GEP failed to sign off its marketing material from a properly regulated person.”