Investors faced with £32m losses in bio-fuel firms scandal

Sipp investors are facing losses of up to £32m after the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) appointed administrators to wind up a number of related “sustainable” investment companies.

Southwark Crown Court issued a freezing order last month on assets held by Sustainable Agroenergy Plc, Sustainable Wealth Investments (UK) Limited and Sustainable Growth Group (UK) Limited after a request from the SFO.

Money Marketing, Fundweb’s sister publication, understands a total of 1,500 people, mostly Sipp investors, could lose out as a result of the collapse of the firms which invested in bio-fuel companies in South-east Asia.

Sustainable Agroenergy, Sustainable Wealth Investments and Sustainable Growth Group entered administration on March 15. Accountancy firm Chantrey Vellacott DFK has been appointed management receiver for the companies.

The SFO says: “The Serious Fraud Office is investigating the activities of Sustainable Agroenergy Plc and Sustainable Wealth Investments UK Ltd and associated companies in connection with selling ’bio-fuel’ investment products involving Jatropha tree plantations in South-east Asia.”

Last week, Money Marketing revealed investors could be facing losses of up to £60m following the liquidation of specialist property investment firm Arck LLP.

Many investors used their pension savings to invest in the foreign property developments through a firm called HD Sipp. Two people were arrested and bailed this month after allegations of fraud related to Arck.

Regulatory Legal is acting for a number of investors in the sustainable investment companies. Director Gareth Fatchett says: “We are seeing a Sipp-driven unregulated investment problem. We understand there to be £32m invested in these funds. We also understand extremely high commission levels were offered to advisers.”

Companies House lists Gary West and Gregg Fryett as directors of Sustainable Agroenergy. West declined to comment and Fryett could not be reached for comment.

A website has been created for investors at www.sgginvestors.ning.com.