To judge by its blurbwriter’s spelling, CNI (UK) has recently become a bit agitated about the coverage that it’s getting in (unnamed) blogs. Here’s the full text of CNI (UK)’s 13th November ‘announcemnet’:
We are aware that CNI (UK) LIMITED and our clients has recently appeared in a number of web based publications that create an association between CNI(UK)LIMITED and Carbon Neutral Investments Limited. These statements are inaccurate and misleading and draw conclusions that are not factual. CNI (UK) LIMITED is a separate company to Carbon Neutral Investments Limited and is a result of a management buyout of the environmental consultancy and offsetting practice previously undertaken by Carbon Neutral Investments Limited. CNI (UK) LIMITED does not undertake any business whatsoever relating to the sale of carbon credits for personal investment and only acts as an environmental consultant at B2B level. We take the reputation of our clients and our company very seriously and are currently taking legal advice on this matter.
Pausing only to note that the subject-verb agreement in the first sentence isn’t quite spot on (‘our clients’ appear to be an afterthought), let’s see how CNI (UK) got on when it sent off its lawyers, Thomas Eggar LLP, to bug REDD-Monitor
On 13 November 2013, REDD-Monitor received a letter from Thomas Eggar LLP, a UK-based firm of solicitors. Thomas Eggar LLP informed REDD-Monitor that “We are writing to you on behalf of CNI (UK) LIMITED (our “Client”),” and that CNI (UK) Ltd is “understandably concerned” by posts because “they contain false or inaccurate statements which seek to create associations between our Client, its customers and carbon credits being sold as personal investments.”
Thomas Eggar LLP explains that CNI (UK) Ltd is the result of a “management buyout” of the “environmental consultancy and offsetting practice previously undertaken by Carbon Neutral Investments Limited”. CNI (UK) Ltd was incorporated on 29 January 2013 and its company registration number is 8380328. Carbon Neutral Investments was incorporated on 24 May 2004 and its registration number is 5136014.
“This information is readily available from publically [sic] accessible sources,” writes Thomas Eggar LLP.
Thomas Eggar LLP also explains that CNI (UK) Ltd took on Carbon Neutral Investments’ offsetting contracts at the time of the buyout. Any contracts since then are “between CNI (UK) Limited and its customers and do not involve Carbon Neutral Investments Limited”.
And Thomas Eggar LLP makes a request:
In light of the above, our Client would appreciate that you clarify on your website that they do not sell carbon credits to personal investors nor do they undertake boiler room type activities and that any association with such activity or the company Carbon Neutral Investments is false.
“Consider it done”, says the laid-back REDD-monitor, adding
The letters page of Private Eye, has a long-running series called Lookalike in which readers send in pictures of two famous individuals who look alike. Maybe I need to get out more, but it seems to me that this might make an interesting entry:
Seakens/Gemmax has an explanation:
CNI (UK) Limited was a management buy-out of the carbon offsetting practice from Opus Capital Limited. Therefore it is no wonder the websites and branding are similar. Mr. Carlton and Mr. Seakens have worked together on a number of businesses and no attempt has been made to hide this fact.
One can argue about the detail, but let that go: given what Seakens is saying here, why has CNI (UK) suddenly started disputing its connections with Carbon Neutral Investments, via lawyers?
Other widely read publications have made the same connections between CNI (UK) and Carbon Neutral Investments and carbon credit scams, without getting nastygrams, including “Naked Capitalism” (who are feeling left out).
For another instance, the Daily Mail published this, on the 29th June, under the headline “Carbon credits pitch is rife with false claims”, about a company called Global Carbon Exchange (GCE):
There are more holes in GCE’s sales pitch than in any Swiss cheese. It claims: ‘Five years ago the directors of Global Carbon Exchange had a vision’, and GCE is the answer to that vision. The truth is that the company was not even formed until 2011 and it has just one director, Stephen Arthur May. He told me that the mention of more than one director was a typing error.
But whatever his vision, it does not seem to include sticking to company law. GCE has never filed any accounts. Last year’s figures were due almost four months ago but are still outstanding, so the company may not last much longer.
May told me that his company has had a business connection with more than one firm authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. One firm was Carbon Neutral Investments. The watchdog FCA fired a shot across its bows some months ago, and in April it handed over this side of its business to a connected company, CNI (UK) Limited, which is not FCA authorised.
My bolding. I don’t see any sign of a retraction by the Daily Mail. Why are CNI (UK) Limited’s lawyers singling out the bloggers, five months later, having let that pass? Do they not fancy taking on the Daily Mail, for some reason?
Perhaps Thomas Eggar would like to explain what’s wrong or not wrong with the Daily Mail’s article, to us here at Naked Capitalism, and what’s wrong with our own coverage, if anything. We would welcome the opportunity to clarify our position, if we could only work out what needs clarification.
For the moment, it all looks like a perfectly frivolous legal threat, and very possibly, inadequate due diligence by Thomas Eggar LLP, who might need some remedial classes on the use of Google, where the Mail’s article can be located very easily.