Multi-sector investor arrested in mystery forex probe

Chris Lee
Serious Fraud Office

A man who has invested in many different sectors including foreign exchange has been arrested under mysterious circumstances.

Andrew Skeene’s primary field of business was the marketing of investments in teak plantations in Brazil, and he operated a so-called ethical investment scheme in which the minimum deposit of £5,000 could give an investor access to a plot of land with 100 trees.

One of his companies is called Global Forestry Investments (or GFI). However, he is understood to have also opened another company, also called GFI – which this time stood for Global Forex Investments.

Media reports were unable to confirm the relationship between the two organisations.

Now, Skeene has been charged by the Serious Fraud Office. He was taken into custody at Heathrow Airport on 29th June.

In full, he has been hit with three separate “conspiracy to defraud contrary to common law” charges. He has also been charged with four forgery offences, and a charge of misconduct in the course of winding up contrary to the Insolvency Act 1986.

He was also accused of making a false statement not under oath contrary to the Perjury Act 1911.

The Serious Fraud Office did not give any more information about the nature of the alleged crimes.

Very little is known about the company “Global Forex Investments”. There does not appear to be a website for it.

What is known, however, is that the Serious Fraud Office received search warrants to enter two properties in southeast England as part of the investigation. This occurred alongside the City of London Police.

The crime fighting agency said that anyone who had invested in the scheme should fill out an online survey which its teams would read.

Despite the relative lack of information about the foreign exchange aspect of his crimes, the history of the two GFIs is somewhat chequered.

It is understood that the Serious Fraud Office has in fact been monitoring and investigating the firm since the middle of 2014.

Last year, Skeene and another director of GFI, Junie Conrad Omari Bowers, were told that they were losing their rights to be company directors for ten years.

This came after they were accused by the Insolvency Service of siphoning off cash intended to be invested in the Brazilian so-called ethical investment scheme.

During the investigation, it had emerged that many investors had not been paid back.

While GFI had received over £20 million from one land sale and more than £3 million from another, investors had received less than a million back altogether. The two directors had in fact placed more than £13 million from the sale of the land into their own personal bank accounts. The pair then siphoned off cash to Dubai, where it appeared to be used to settle commercial debts.

When information about the company emerged, the Insolvency Service’s official receiver Anthony Hannon warned that such behaviour would lead to disqualification.

“Directors who receive investment monies and misapply them for purposes not to the benefit of the company can expect to face the consequences of a lengthy period of disqualification”, he explained.

Chris Lee

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