Charges have been brought against four individuals in connection with a £23 million fraud at Sustainable AgroEnergy, whose parent company, Sustainable Growth Group, is in administration. The SFO has been looking at the promotion of bio fuel investment products to UK investors between April 2011 and February 2012. Sustainable AgroEnergy, a £40 million investment scheme, collapsed in 2012 amid concerns that crops either did not exist, or there were not enough to supply investors with returns. The investment products were linked to Jatropha-tree Plantations in South East Asia.
Three of the individuals are directors of the company, including the company’s former chief executive, its former chief commercial officer and a former financial controller. The other individual is an independent financial advisor connected with the company. All are British nationals. Three of the individuals were charged with “offences of making and accepting a financial advantage” contrary to the UK Bribery Act, which came into effect in July 2011. More information about the Bribery Act can be found here.
The next step is that the individuals will appear before court on 23 September. They are not subject to bail or remand, and have not yet had the opportunity to indicate any plea.