“Validated Carbon Credits”: a Correction, a Confirmation, Questions, and No Hint of an Apology

By Richard Smith

Validated Carbon Credits is a trading name of Baron Traders Limited, a company operated by an expatriate British scammer called James Richards. I wrote about him here; when he popped up in the post’s comments threatening litigation, I snarled at him a little. Now I have a few minor updates.

Finding that there were no hits for “Baron Traders Limited” in Opencorporates, an international corporate registry, and usually a reliable free source on corporate registrations, I had written about his company:

Um, I think that means there’s no company called “Baron Traders Limited”, Number 105368, in Gibraltar.

But now, the Gibraltar regulator, whom I contacted, by way of backup, confirms that James Richards’ company Baron Traders Limited is registered in Gibraltar. So my conclusion was wrong, and I unreservedly retract my claim that Baron Traders Limited doesn’t exist.

This makes no difference to the main points of the original post, and it emphasizes some new oddities.

For a start, “Validated Carbon Credits” really is just a name, not a company, though “Ellie Richards” told the FT that she was a director of it. That just isn’t right.

The Gibraltar regulator did confirm my claim that Baron Traders Limited (and another company that I inquired about) are unregulated:

The activities which both companies purport to conduct, namely trading in emissions or carbon credits are not ones which require either company to seek authorisation from the this Commission, as these are not considered regulated activities under the Financial Services (Investment and Fiduciary Services) Act, the Financial Services (Markets in Financial Instruments) Act 2007 or other Supervisory Acts.

There are circumstances where companies carrying on such activities may be required to comply with the provisions of activities defined under Schedule 1 ‘List Of Services and Activities and Financial Instruments’ http://www.gibraltarlaws.gov.gi/articles/2006-32o.pdf (see Section C Financial Instruments on page 68) of the Financial Services (Markets in Financial Instruments) Act 2007.

This leads to another question for Mr Richards. Given that the FSC doesn’t regulate trading in carbon credits, and Baron Traders Limited isn’t registered with the FSC, this part of Richards’ comment to our original post makes no sense:

In Gibraltar we are under the watchful eye of the FSC (similar to the FSA in the UK) and so it would not be in our interest to mislead clients in any way.

Why does he mention the FSC? Baron Traders Limited’ transactions are covered by ordinary Gibraltar law, nothing more. The FSC do not supervise Baron Traders Limited. They would become involved if Baron Traders Limited operated some kind of collective investment scheme; or if it traded certain instruments and securities for certain types of clients.

We also repeat our observation on Vogue Estates, his now defunct real estate company:

…Vogue Estates started in 2000, grew to a size of 1,000 employees in multinational locations, and yet didn’t bother with a web site until 2007. And some time shortly after that, it vanished, leaving only its wayback machine traces. Remarkable.

We continue to question the way he promotes his trading services via bulletin boards and the like, wonder what his target market is, and now ask whether any of his activities on behalf of clients, if there are any, would fall under the FSC’s purview. We note that he claims a 300%+ return on $100,000 in three weeks and implies that he can repeat it (now that’s too good to be true!).

We again ask why, and to whom, he is promoting his company’s trading activities, at this venue, cheek by jowl with upfront fee scammers.

There is one more thing. Readers are invited to consider this series of postings, where Richards promotes a Private Placement Program,

“PPP starting at 10K, 75K, 1Million & 1Billion plus! (CIS); SHOW ME WHAT YOU HAVE (POF); LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU NEED (LOI)”.

A Billion, eh? Here is more on Prime Bank Fraud (“Private Placement Program” is picked out as a “red flag” phrase) from the US Treasury. The New York Fed has this to say about Private Placement Programs:

Targets are told that in order to participate they must provide the scam artist with verification of large (usually multi-million dollar) deposits in a personal bank account… Scam artists give “guarantees,” frequently in writing, that the money will remain in the target’s account, under her sole control, throughout the term of the program.

The purpose of these schemes is to obtain enough information about the target to allow the scam artist to impersonate the target and take the money from the designated account.

Note also Richards’ abuse of the sceptical commenters. I hope that will explain my uncivil response to his threats, and my reluctance to provide any contact details to him.

Note also his habit of misdirection: as to his location, which was Spain in 2009 and is still Spain now: not the UK, and not Gibraltar; and as to his affiliations: his postings were made in 2009 and give Vogue Estates’ UK “main office” address (actually, it’s just an accommodation address), while his LinkedIn profile, copied here, says his involvement with Vogue Estates ceased in 2008.

We still do not expect to hear from Mr Richards’ lawyers, and will have some more fun, if we do.

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  1. psychohistorian

    Wasn’t the cop that is suppose to be chasing Mr Richards down the one that was overheard on the Brooklyn bridge today saying to his partner….”how about if we occupy the van.”

    Thanks for the follow up posting Mr Smith.

  2. Jeff

    The whole concept of carbon credits is so suspect.

    Here’s an analogy. I go around punching my neighbors in
    the face. This is a bad thing.

    Some genius comes up with a scheme to give me pieces of
    paper that say that I only have the right to punch 10
    neighbors in the face per year. The police must respect the validity of the punch permits.

    I can however sell those punch credits on the open market
    to guys that have a compelling need to punch lots of people
    in the face. This will create a market for the punch credits
    and will thus

    A. Create jobs.

    B. Give me money to seek
    therapy to stop punching people.

    C. Raise the cost of punching people in the face higher, thus lowering the
    incidence of face punching.

    D. Allow Goldman Sachs to skim a profit off of each credit
    and to create all manner of financial tricks to package, bundle, sell, swap and skim more profits off the paper.

    What’s it really all about? A.? B.? C.? or D.?

    1. different clue

      It reminds me of something satirical Big Gav once wrote on his Peak Energy blog about how a perfect way to end slavery would have been to auction off slaveowning permits which could be bought and sold among slaveowners and/or slavebuyer wannabes. Over time the number of permits issued would be lowered and the price raised per permit.

      He then went on to say that his preferred way to reduce fossil carbon burning would be to tax every bit of fossil carbon burned, using the collected taxes to subsidize no-fossil no-net-carbon sources and conservation technologies and infrastructure. The carbon taxes would be slowly and steadily raised to savagely punitive levels.

  3. Jardinero1

    I am wondering whether Yves critique is of the legitimacy of Baron Traders Limited or the legitimacy of carbon trading and carbon credits.

  4. Preet Bahrara

    I’m thinking if your friend got took for speculating in ‘validated carbon credits’, they deserved it. That’s what you get for impersonating a bloodsucking vampire squid, innit?


  5. decora

    i dont know how much this blog earns, but why not hire a journalist to fact check everything before it goes up? there are thousands of them unemployed.

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