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British investigators arrest second co-founder of teak investment firm

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LONDON (Reuters) – The second co-founder of a company that promoted investments in Brazil’s Amazonian teak plantations has been arrested at London’s Gatwick airport and charged with fraud, forgery and misconduct offences by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Omari Bowers, a former director of Global Forestry Investments, was arrested on Wednesday, three months after another former director and co-founder, Andrew Skeene, was held at London’s Heathrow airport and also charged over alleged wrongdoing between 2010 and 2015.

Bowers, 42, had twice failed to turn up at a London court to be formally charged. He is now due to appear on Nov. 1 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, the SFO said.

His lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

The second arrest comes around five years after the SFO opened a criminal investigation into the business, which attracted more than 20 million pounds from investors.

Bowers and Skeene said on their LinkedIn page that they co-founded Global Forestry Investments in 2008, buying land in Brazil for the “sustainable planting and harvesting of teak trees for investment purposes”.

Bowers said Global Forestry operated three plantations covering “thousands of hectares of land”.

Skeene is due to enter a plea in a London’s Southwark Crown Court on Nov. 29, the SFO said.

(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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