Two men jailed in UK over Brazil teak investment fraud

LONDON (Reuters) - Two company directors, who lured about 2,000 investors into a 37 million pound ($44.6 million) fraudulent green investment scheme in Brazil, on Wednesday were each sentenced to 11 years in jail by a London court.

Andrew Skeene, 44, and 45-year-old Omari Bowers were convicted of three counts of conspiracy to defraud and one count of misconduct in the course of winding up a company after a jury trial last month, the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) prosecutor said.

Lawyers for the men, who were also disqualified from holding director positions for 10 years, were not immediately available for comment.

Skeene and Bowers encouraged victims to invest in three Brazilian teak tree plantations, presenting them as secure, ethical investments that would help protect the Amazon rainforest and support local communities.

But the pair withdrew around 750,000 pounds in cash and spent another 2 million pounds funding Skeene's wedding and a smart car for Bowers, a Bentley Continental GT, as well as travel and other luxuries, the SFO said.

"Today's sentencing warns fraudsters that if they choose to play fast and loose with others' hard-earned savings or pensions, we will pursue them and they will be held accountable for their crimes," SFO director Lisa Osofsky said.

($1 = 0.8295 pounds)

(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Bill Berkrot)