October 2, 2005

"The conmen and the green professor"

No surprise here.

Today's Times (U.K.) has two articles about a company of excons setting up shop to take advantage of the free flow of wind-energy subsidies and the gullibility of people who are sure they have the answers. From "'Green' adviser takes cash for access to ministers":
An investigation by The Sunday Times has found that Professor Ian Fells, one of Britain’s foremost academic experts on energy and an adviser to the cabinet, is trading on his connections to help clients lobby government. Last week Fells negotiated a fee of £600 to broker a meeting between a reporter, posing as a businessman, and a senior civil servant. Fells said the official was writing the forthcoming energy white paper.
And from "The conmen and the green professor":
Like thousands of other modern entrepreneurs, they hoped to turn a quick profit from trading in wind power and other forms of green energy.

Labour’s push to generate 10% of Britain's energy from green sources by the end of the decade has created a boom time likened by one expert last week to the South Sea Bubble.

Nathan and Rees hoped that their new company, Pure Energy & Power, would take advantage of generous government subsidies, European grants and an eagerness by the City and banks to invest without doing proper due diligence.

For they had a dirty secret. Nathan was not the respectable lawyer with a PhD in economics that he made himself out to be. Fellow inmates at Wandsworth prison had known him as Ronnie, a serial fraudster who could not resist a con. It was in prison that he met Rees, a disgraced private detective, who was serving a seven-year sentence for attempting to plant drugs on a client’s wife.

Given their dubious backgrounds, they needed someone who could give them credibility and open the door to the corridors of power. Enter Professor Ian Fells.

The emeritus professor at Newcastle University is one of Britain’s foremost experts on green energy. ... His expertise is much sought after. He was the science adviser to the World Energy Council for 11 years until 1998 and is also an energy adviser to the European Union.

He is particularly close to senior British government officials after acting as an adviser for cabinet and select committees. This week he will be in London to advise officials engaged in rewriting the energy white paper.

Despite his many commitments, he is still available for hire.
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