Isle of Man to investigate collapse of Nicaraguan bamboo fund

Added 15th February 2017

The Isle of Man's High Court of Justice has appointed an inspector to look into the collapse of the $61m (£48m, €57m) Eco Resources Fund, after it went bust last November.

Isle of Man to investigate collapse of Nicaraguan bamboo fund

The fund, which convinced 189 investors to put their money into building a bamboo plantation in Nicaragua, was set up by Isle of Man-based Premier Group in 2012.

Premier Group is the company behind the New Earth Group of funds, which were wound up by the Isle of Man authorities last July.

Around 3,247 investors put £292m in New Earth, most of whom are unlikely to see their money again.

In a statement on their websites, the High Court in Douglas and the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority (IoMFSA) said it has appointed an inspector to find out what went wrong with Eco Resources Fund and its subsidiary EcoPlanet Bamboo.

The inspector is also tasked with looking at what role was played by the Premier Group, the fund’s administrator Moore Fund Administration (IOM) Limited; and the custodian Kleinwort Benson (Guernsey) Limited.

Fund goes bust

In a letter sent by Premier Group to Eco Resources investors in November 2016, the company said: “Over the last few weeks I have spoken to a number of you, discussing the lack of liquidity affecting the Fund and the urgent need for further investment in order to continue.

“Although several of you gave serious consideration to committing additional money, regrettably no firm commitments were forthcoming. As a result, the fund board has been left with no option other than to commence the process to put the fund into liquidation.”

The letter added that the Premier Group would “cooperate fully with the FSA following the appointment of an Isle of Man inspector".

“Today we were informed by the FSA that they have made an application to the High Court in the Isle of Man for the appointment of an inspector to fully investigate the background and events leading to the current situation,” wrote the company.

‘Guaranteed returns’

EcoPlanet Bamboo created a complex corporate structure, with several companies registered in the Isle of Man and the state of Delaware in the US.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 in April 2012, Camille Rebelo, one of the co-founders of EcoPlanet Bamboo, claimed that an investment of $50,000 would see a return of 500% over 15 years.

“It’s a guaranteed return to the investor,” she said at the time.

Nearly all the investors who put their money in Eco Resources would have done so on the recommendation of a financial adviser.

Michael Weldon, an IoMFSA official, told the Island’s local media that investors should make a formal complaint to their financial adviser if they felt they had been mis-sold the investments.

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Monira Matin

Senior Reporter

Monira joined International Adviser in March 2016 from Informa Global Markets where she worked as a eurobond reporter for over two years, covering fixed income markets. She has previously held a number of editorial positions covering politics, insurance and technology. Monira has a degree in Journalism and Economics from City University.

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