Timeline of events: Ethical Forestry
2007 - Company's UK Formation
Of course, that was just the English side of what investors call “Ethical Forestry
“, formed on the 17th December 2007.
Set up to market Melina Tree plantations in Costa Rica, the groundwork for the glossy brochures and (admittedly) beautifully presented marketing material began to come together. The plan, as revealed in Money Observer much later in 2012, was to “turn £18,000 into £104,189 over 12 years”, of course, that’s once the Melina trees had all been planted, carefully nurtured and managed, before being harvested and the timber sold. A minimum (at the time) investment of £18,000 bought investors 600 Melina trees.
2012 - Marketing To SIPP Investors
Thousands received cold-calls about making Ethical Forestry investments, either through transferring into a SIPP: Self Invested Personal Pension, or as a cash investment. These calls came from a number of unregulated introducers
and a good handful of financial advisers to get things moving when needed.
For many, this involved taking on a “free pension review”, where all old and frozen pension would be reviewed to see if they could perform better in a different pension scheme. Often, the suggestion was to move to a SIPP and invest in this high-risk investment, despite the individual often being told it was safe.
Depending on the financial adviser, other investments such as high-risk overseas property investments (also a commonly mis-sold investment the team at Get Claims Advice deal with regularly) were also recommended in some cases.
2012 - Signs Of Problems
On the 1 December 2014, the Bournemouth Echo
ran a headline: “Staff told he would be redundant by Christmas as call centre shuts down”.
This referred to the Holdenhurst Road call centre operation on behalf of Ethical Forestry. According to the article, the reason for the shut down was related to “risk management advice” from lawyers. Staff were told they would receive one months wages, and were sent home, which one worker referred to as “devastating”.
2015 - Administration2015 brought the news many investors had begun to fear. Ethical Forestry in England went into administration, putting the future of investor’s investments and returns in jeopardy!
2016 - Claims, Hurricanes & The Sun
But by 2016 it wasn’t just Get Claims Advice and a few local media teams looking into the Ethical Forestry story. The Sun newspaper
released a couple of quite stinging articles about Ethical Forestry, focusing on the directors “pocketing” £14 million, and Matthew Pickard’s “£4million mansion in Bournemouth”. Meanwhile, the team at Get Claims Advice Ltd kept working hard on those claims on behalf of their clients – effort that is still paying off for many clients.
But 2016 wasn’t over yet, and in November, Hurricane Otto hit Costa Rica, and the plantations were damaged. A 2017 damage report prepared by Shane Biddlecombe of the administrators at HJS Solutions stated the following damage:
Santa Cristobal Plantation: 47% Demolished, 26% Significant Effects
Santa Rita Farm: 36% red category (70% Destruction), 21% Significant Effects
Chimuria Farm: 33% Significant Effects
Brasilia 1, 2 y 3 farms: 27% Significant Effects
El Encanto Farm: 22% Significant Effects
Santa Cecilia Farm: 12% Significant Effects
News that the HMRC was claiming £21m from the four companies that helped to promote Ethical Forestry added to woes. The FSCS finished 2016 by saying that they estimated that £50million was to be paid out over negligent advice to invest in Ethical Forestry.