Andrew Ager was instructed as an expert witness on behalf of the Prosecution in a case involving 8 Defendant’s accused of a £7 million carbon credit fraud that, after 3 weeks at Trial in Southwark Crown Court collapsed as Mr Ager was found under cross-examination to have no relevant qualifications.
HHJ Nicholas Loraine-Smith ruled that the Defendants should be cleared of any offence upon hearing the admissions by the Prosecution expert during the course of the Trial.
In closing, HHJ Nicholas Loraine-Smith ruled that “Andrew Ager is not an expert of suitable calibre. He had little or no understanding of the duties of an expert. He had received no training and attended no courses. He has no academic qualifications. His work has never been peer-reviewed.”
Given that Mr Ager is currently an expert witness in other Prosecution cases and has previously appeared on behalf of the Prosecution in 20 other cases, there are now ongoing reviews of those cases by the City of London Police and the matter has now been referred to the National Crime Agency.
The Prosecution alleged that the 8 Defendants had engaged directly in fraud committed against members of the public to make investments, including in the purchase of carbon credits, or the laundering of the proceeds of it between 2011 and 2018.
Carbon credits are part of an international scheme that aim to reduce the quantity of greenhouse gases released. The credit can be purchased by companies in order that it can emit a certain amount of CO2 on the basis that the emission is offset by another company elsewhere in the world.
The carbon credit trade market is understood to not normally be accessible to small investors.
Andrew Ager was instructed by the Prosecution as an expert witness to provide evidence that the Defendant’s must have been aware that they were asking investors to purchase an item that was not worth anything.
The evidence produced by Andrew Ager was provided in the form of a written statement and relied upon by the Prosecution. It made the point that anyone with knowledge of the carbon credit market would know that there was little prospect of the investments making any profit which, if correct, would be sufficient to prove that the Defendant’s were committing fraud.
The court was informed that Andrew Ager had made a telephone call 2 weeks before the trial to the Defence Expert, Marius-Cristian Frunza, an expert in financial crime, and attempted to dissuade him from giving evidence in the trial.
During the phone call, Andrew Ager is alleged to have made claims including that victims had died as a result of the loss of money, that the Defendant’s had used the money to purchase expensive cars and that if he spoke in court he risked being in an environment where he would find out that he was defending someone who had taken someone’s life savings.
This phone call was, according to HHJ Nicholas Loraine-Smith, an attempt by the Prosecution expert, Andrew Ager to convince the Defence Expert not to give evidence so that his own evidence was not challenged as he felt threatened.
Once it had become known that the Prosecution expert had made the phone call, he was cross-examined in court and it was then that he revealed that he did not have a degree and could not remember whether or not he had passed any A-levels and had not read any literature on the carbon credits market.
In addition to this, he made admissions that he had made no notes of his workings and that the case material had been kept in a cupboard under the stairs.
HHJ Nicholas Loraine-Smith stated that the disclosure in the case had been “pretty chaotic and unsatisfactory”.
HHJ Nicholas Loraine-Smith further stated that many of the victims were elderly and that they had not succeeded in getting their money back and that they had deserved a full and proper investigation of the allegations, however, had been let down.
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