Major Carbon Credit and Fraud Trial Collapse
September 01, 2020
Narita Bahra QC and John Carl Townsend expose fundamental disclosure failings which results in the collapse of a major carbon credits and diamond prosecution.
This was a prosecution brought against 8 defendants for an alleged fraud involving the sale of carbon credits for the purposes of investment. The defendants asserted that they believed that there was a viable market for carbon credits and that they believed that the value of the credits would rise.
The trial collapsed as a result of the prosecution’s reliance on a witness called Andrew Ager. The prosecution had asserted that Mr. Ager was an expert in the carbon credits market and had relied upon him to secure convictions in over 20 trials. Mr. Ager had repeatedly told juries that, amongst other things, that there was no secondary market in the sale of VER carbon credits.
In this case, Narita identified and instructed Dr. Marius Cristian Frunza as an expert for the defence. Dr. Frunza holds a PhD from Sorbonne University and lectures extensively in respect of the carbon credit markets. Mr. Ager improperly attempted to dissuade Dr. Frunza from giving evidence. This resulted in the Narita’s defense team applying to cross-examine Mr. Ager in a voir dire before he was permitted to give evidence to the jury.
During the course of that cross-examination, the following evidence was elicited:
- Ager had no academic qualifications whatsoever. He had not obtained a degree. When asked if he had any A-Levels, he replied that he had sat 3, but couldn’t remember if he had passed.
- Despite asserting that he kept abreast of the carbon credits market, he admitted that he had not read any books on the subject even though he accepted that Dr. Frunza’s books were widely available. He did, however, tell the court that he had once seen a documentary about credit credits.
- He admitted that a number of the assertions he had made to Dr. Frunza, during a joint experts meeting, were either wholly untrue or substantially inaccurate.
He admitted that he did not consider it his duty to bring facts to the court’s attention which might assist the defence.
- He admitted that he had kept no record whatsoever of the material that he had been provided with by the police and no notes of his workings.
- He admitted that he had lost some of the sensitive material he had been provided with by the police as he kept it in a cupboard under the stairs and the material had been damaged by a “leak”. He did, however, assure the court that he now had better storage facilities as he kept confidential material in a “locked box on his balcony”.