Update 14/12/2018 below – The court in Amsterdam has decided that there is no ground in the Netherlands to award any damages or have articles taken down about Patrick Visser and his wife, Keren Visser-Katz. Furthermore, the judge ruled that the way a ruling in absentia was provoked by the Vissers and their lawyer, mr. van Groenendaal, was, in fact, unlawful, just as their subsequent efforts to have online publications removed.
I have been writing about the Visser couple for years since I ran across a story about them in the Christian Science Monitor. Together with another Dutchman, Maurice Sjerps, they were running a forestry outfit called Silva Tree in Panama that did not pass the smell test.
MONEY GROWS ON TREES!
First of all, they were claiming to be certified as a carbon offset project under the VCS. Later they changed their tune and stated that they were in “the process” of being certified. The truth is that they were never certified by anyone and didn’t even apply for it. In court in July of this year, Patrick Visser came up with a new version, now asserting that all along they had meant to say that they were certified by ANAM, Panama’s environmental authority. But ANAM doesn’t certify carbon offset schemes as such — another lie.
The other major fraudulent misrepresentation they made was that they guaranteed unrealistically high returns to their investors. Any expert on reforestation — or agriculture in general — can tell you that there is no such thing as a guaranteed return in agroforestry. This became all the more evident as Silva Tree’s own plantation turned into a fiasco with trees that weren’t growing and even died because of a badly selected location and inferior soil, according to an internal report. The fact that they were trying to grow Paulownia trees — a species from China that has never been successfully grown commercially in the humid tropics and that they didn’t know much about — probably didn’t help either.
A previous forestry project in Costa Rica had ended in failure as well, and led to a court case in Israel.
LAND GRABBING VULTURES, ARRESTED IN COSTA RICA
Things took a turn for the worse for the Vissers when Merian Research and CRBM published the report “The Vultures of Land Grabbing” which lists an offshore/onshore web of shady companies involved in land grabbing and dubious investments — if not outright scams — which were more often than not sold through a network of boiler room sales outfits. Silva Tree was featured in the report as one of the culprits as well.
Then, Silva Tree director Maurice Sjerps was arrested in Costa Rica after duped investors had filed fraud charges against him and his business partner, one Mr. Vranken. Both were also part of the aforementioned Silva Tree project in Costa Rica.
The Vissers responded by making threats, and with filing a criminal defamation complaint against me in Panama. This resulted in a court session with a judge who shortly before had asked me for money, which I refused to give him, and a court-appointed lawyer whose entire defense of me consisted of stating that in her opinion I was not really guilty. Needless to say, I lost that case, but I continued to publish about Visser’s shenanigans.
REBRANDING AND ADDING BITCOIN TO THE MIX
Visser also attempted to rebrand Silva Tree, which was from then on called the Sustainable Capital Group. The new holding company was incorporated on the Isle of Man, with subsidiaries in Panama. This did little to stop the bad publicity and eventually, the Visser couple abandoned the company and left Panama for Israel. Here, Patrick Visser secretly started a new venture called CryptoNext, which was purportedly selling bitcoin trading software next to its own digital currency. It was also incorporated on the Isle of Man. I found out about it and it appears not much business was done after that.
Interestingly, the company has been struck from the corporate registry on the Isle of Man, but the CryptoNext website carries on as if they’re still in business, somewhere, somehow.
LAWSUIT IN HOLLAND ENDS WITH VISSER’S HOUSE SEQUESTERED
In 2016, the Vissers started a civil lawsuit against me in the Netherlands, claiming damages and requesting that all articles about them be removed from the web. They carefully avoided notifying me of this suit and thus managed to obtain a favorable ruling in absentia — I never mounted any defense because I was simply unaware there was a case at all. When one of my websites was shut down I found out what was going on and quickly took legal countermeasures with my lawyer, the great Channa Samkalden.
In December 2016, as a result, the Dutch court in a preliminary judgment prohibited the Vissers from executing the verdict, i.e. collect damages, pending the outcome of the case. The court also ordered the Vissers to pay for the legal proceedings, which they refused. At the time, I was in prison in Panama, partly because of this Visser/Silva Tree business.
In response to Visser refusing to pay, I had a house sequestered that Patrick Visser partly owns in the Netherlands. He and his wife, meanwhile, had moved from Israel to the resort town of Cala d’Or on the Spanish island of Mallorca.
And now the final verdict is in, and Patrick Visser and his wife Keren Visser-Katz lost. They still refuse to pay the legal fees they have been ordered to pay (by now it’s over €3000) so I might have to actually sell the damn house to get my money (most of it for my lawyer).
The court ruling is available here (in Dutch).