Three Convicted in UK Over Cambodian Biofuel Scam

A London court on Friday convicted three British men of conspiracy to commit fraud following an investigation by the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into a British biofuel firm that swindled investors in its Cambodian venture.

Gary West, the former director of Sustainable Agro Energy (SAE); James Whale, director of SAE’s parent company, Sustainable Growth Group; and Stuart Stone, who ran a firm that sold pension products, were investigated by the SFO for defrauding investors in a $36-million Ponzi scheme.

SAE’s former chairman, Greg Fryett, has been detained at Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison for nearly two years without trial, despite the SFO’s attempts to have him extradited.

“The SFO’s criminal investigation focused on the selling and promotion of SAE investment products based on ‘green biofuel’ Jatropha tree plantations in Cambodia,” the SFO said in a press release after Friday’s convictions.

“The green biofuel products were sold to UK investors who invested primarily via self-invested pension plans.

These investors were deliberately misled into believing that SAE owned land in Cambodia, that the land was planted with Jatropha trees, and that there was an insurance policy in place to protect investors if the crops failed,” it says.

The three convicted men are set to be sentenced at the Southwark Crown Court in London on Monday.

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