TONY HETHERINGTON: We’re watching you
Two South London men awaiting trial on fraud charges have been ordered to hand over £8.6million after they failed to persuade the High Court they were not bound by a deal reached with the liquidator of their investment firm.
Omari Bowers and Andrew Skeene ran GFI Consultants Ltd, which used the name Global Forestry Investments.
The firm was wound up in 2014 and the liquidator won a court order to freeze assets worth more than £10million.
Omari Bowers and Andrew Skeene have been charged with fraud
Bowers and Skeene contested this, and in November 2018 a compromise settlement was agreed under which they would make large monthly payments to the liquidator.
However, in July last year the Serious Fraud Office charged both men with conspiracy to defraud, forgery and misconduct during the winding-up of their business.
Skeene was arrested at Heathrow Airport in June and Bowers was arrested at Gatwick Airport in October.
The pair argued the settlement was confidential and, as the liquidator had given a copy to the SFO, they should no longer be bound by it.
At the High Court in London on Tuesday, Judge Philip Kramer rejected their claim and ordered them to stick to the deal and pay over £8.6million.
As both men are awaiting trial, there are legal restrictions on what can be published, but I can say that I reported on their scheme to invest in teak trees in Brazil as long ago as 2011.