Forestry for Life and the Investor Club allegedly took hundreds of thousands of pounds from people who paid into environmental investment schemes involving teak tree plantations and rainforest protection projects.
However administrators have found the two companies now have just £310 between them.
Matthew Ames, 37, who ran both businesses from a converted farm barn, has been charged with two counts of fraudulent trading, the Basildon Echo reports.
The firms were investigated by City of London Police specialist fraud unit following a referral from the Financial Services Authority.
Ames, the sole director of both companies, was arrested at home in September last year. He is the son of David and Carol Ames, who run the £200m Harlequin Property fund in which he has a 10% stake.
A police spokesman said: "Matthew Ames has been charged with two counts of fraudulent trading.
"This relates to investments made in teak trees concerning The Investor Club and carbon credits for Forestry for Life."
One charge relates to the Investor Club, which was set up in 2008, which allegedly took £846,494 for investments in teak tree plantations in Sri Lanka.
The other concerns Forestry for Life, set up in 2009, which allegedly took £443,327 from investors keen to protect rainforest in Brazil and other third-world countries.
Forestry for Life allegedly offered guaranteed interest of 12% for three years for minimum £25,000 investments which were said to purchase carbon credits.
Both firms were placed into liquidation in March 2011 with alleged combined debts of more than £1.6m.