Celestial Green projects in Amazon prove ill-starred
The involvement of the Dublin-based company Celestial Green Ventures plc with carbon credit projects in the Amazon was at one stage set to be the basis for an enormous business.
Filings in the United States show that two years ago the people behind the venture believed it could grow into a multibillion-euro affair.
However, since then the project has run into a number of difficulties, with the legal challenge in Brazil just the latest.
Celestial chief executive Ciaran Sheamus Kelly (53) is a former director of a shell company listed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Apollo Capital Group Inc, which has made filings giving details of the project in the past.
In July 2010 Apollo and a UK company associated with Kelly, Celestial Investments Ltd, were involved in a share swap that saw Kelly get shares in Apollo, and Celestial become a subsidiary of the US firm.
According to a July 2010 filing to the SEC, Celestial Investments was appointed as sales representative for carbon credits arising from a project in Brazil.
It said that as of July 2010 Celestial Investments had secured letters of intent for “Celestial Green Ltd” with various third parties for 8.6 million carbon credits on a “when-issued basis”, with a total sales price of $45 million.
The credits were associated with the Rondonia project in Brazil, a 30-year initiative involving 15.2 million hectares of land that Celestial Green “owned or leased” in Rondonia state in Brazil.
If implemented successfully, the project would see Celestial Green “become a worldwide leader in the carbon credit market with potential revenues over the next 30 years of approximately $32 billion based on a current market value of $5.25 per carbon credit”.
Celestial Investments had entered into a contract with London-based Industry Re, which was to supply sales representatives, according to the filing.
Apollo Capital has not filed a report to the SEC since November 2010, when the regulator was informed Kelly had resigned as a director for health reasons but was still working with Celestial Investments.
Celestial Investments, with an address in Kent, England, was incorporated in 2008 and dissolved last March. Its only filed accounts show it had accumulated losses of £11,285 in November 2009.
An Irish company, Celestial Green Ltd, of which Kelly is a director, was incorporated in 2009 and had shareholders’ funds of €100 at the end of 2010. It had a subsidiary in Brazil that was given a value of €9.4 million in the accounts, and debts to an unnamed connected company of a similar amount. The accounts stated that in November 2010 Celestial Green Ventures acquired the entire share capital of Celestial Green Ltd.
Celestial Green Ventures plc was incorporated in November 2010 and has its offices at 93 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. According to its website, it was listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange that year but has recently been delisted. In July 2011 Celestial Green Ventures and Industry Re issued a statement saying Celestial had concluded a forward sale of one million carbon credits to Industry Re. No financial figure was given for the transaction.
At around the same time Industry Re issued a brochure in which it said it had partnered with Celestial Green Ventures and that they were to become “a global team dominating the forestry sector in the rapidly emerging and expanding climate change marketplace”. It said Celestial Green had “gained access to the rights to all carbon credits developed” in an 18 million hectare area of the Amazon.
The only filed accounts for Industry Re are for the year to July 2010, when it had shareholders’ funds of £278,554. Messages left with the company and with its shareholder, Ian Hamilton, had met with no response by yesterday evening.
Celestial Green Ventures’ communications manager Warren Collier declined a request to be interviewed but agreed to answer questions by email.
He said there was a non-disclosure agreement with Industry Re in relation to payments for Celestial’s carbon credits. Asked why the company had not published any accounts, he said it had appointed new auditors in October 2012.
“Since taking over the role, OSK have worked tirelessly to bring our consolidated accounts up to date. The company apologises for this delay and will be filing its accounts as soon as possible.”
Celestial had an issued share capital of $11 million at May 26th, 2011, with Kelly the largest single shareholder.
Collier said the reason Kelly resigned from Apollo was that it had been envisaged that the US company would provide substantial sums to fund Celestial Green. In October 2010 Kelly demanded proof of funds from Apollo. When they did not provide proof, Kelly resigned and started reversing all the Apollo transactions, he said.