In my last post on the attempts to clamp down on New Zealander Ian Taylor’s buccaneering (ahem) company registrations, which have facilitated arms-smuggling and massive moneylaundering, I wrote of his latest venture
Naturally, various official and unofficial sleuths will now be sniffing after this new firm and the “reputable Asian jurisdiction”…
One awaits the next grisly sightings of Taylor’s legacy, registered in “Asia”, or Delaware, or London, or wherever.
It turned out not to be a long wait to find both some new grisliness, and Taylor’s new firm. New Zealand’s sharp-eyed locals are on the case:
New Zealand’s lax company registration has come under renewed criticism after a local shell company, with the assistance of Russian and Vanuatuan nominee directors, spirited nearly $1 million through Latvian bank accounts.
On July 30, 2010, the High Court in Auckland appointed Grant Thornton’s Greg Sherriff and Tim Downes as liquidators of Premio Partners after a claim for 620,900 ($957,000) from the liquidators of United Kingdom firm International Trading Group (UK).
Premio is a company set up by shell company firm GT Group, operated by the Taylor family, whose pre-packaged companies and nominee directors have been used by clients to ship arms to North Korea and to launder drug money.
According to Sherriff, in October and November of 2008 ITG transferred 620,900 into a Latvian bank account registered in the name of Premio. By the end of December, Premio’s accounts had been emptied.
The Sunday Star-Times understands the funds in Premio’s accounts were in turn transferred to bank accounts in Germany where the cash “dissipated”.
Here’s the London connection, as expected:
According to the United Kingdom’s Companies House, Olga Kourova was appointed the sole director of ITG (UK) in June 2008 – six months before the mysterious cash transfers.
Kourova, a resident of Russia, was just 21 at the time of her appointment. Now 25, Russian social-media websites indicate she lives in Moscow. She could not be reached for comment.
And here’s the name that provides a connection to Taylor’s latest venture:
Meanwhile, the New Zealand end of the transaction was overseen – at least on paper – by Vanuatu-based Charles Kalopungi, listed in public documents as Premio’s sole director.
Kalopungi is a regular nominee used by GT Group, and according to public documents has been the director of 621 New Zealand companies. Although many have been struck off the Companies Register in the past few years, 34 are still active.
…which leads to Taylor’s new firm, in a ‘respectable Asian jurisdiction’, just as he promised:
However, while his previous operation, the GT Group, has closed down, a new Taylor-linked company, Ready Made Shelf Company Inc registered in Malaysia, has continued its line of business.
Taylor family patriarch Geoffrey Taylor and RMSC did not reply to emails sent this past week.
Taylor’s son Ian Taylor is listed as the contact for RMSC, and the company advertises on its website a range of pre-registered New Zealand companies with names like Carlisle Group, Donati International and Pentato Trade. Many have Kalopungi listed as sole director.
Hats off to NZ investigative journalist Matt Nippert of Fairfax Media for tracing all the links back. He makes it look easy.
So where does that leave us?
- There’s more mole-whacking to come in New Zealand, striking off the last known Taylor companies.
- If Malaysian authorities want it to hang on to its “respectability” as a jurisdiction, they had better get after Ian Taylor. Has New Zealand’s officialdom had a quiet word with the relevant Malaysian authorities yet?
- I don’t imagine for a moment that any authority in the UK or its offshore satellites is at all concerned with respectable company registration, but perhaps New Zealand’s officialdom had better have a quiet word with someone in London, too: SOCA, perhaps.
Further reading: some colourful glimpses of the UK’s company registration regime and London’s reputation.
Crime surely pays these days. I almost feel like a fool for not joining in. On the other hand, the London article link brought a lot of Clash lyrics from 30 years ago to mind. So probably the only thing that is new is my awareness of them (and the pervasiveness I guess).
Your New Zealand series has been fascinating, Richard. Thanks for keeping us informed.
Stuff is actually just an online content provider and centralized portal service – it doesn’t write its own articles. If you look at the byline on most of the Stuff stories you can see it’s actually Fairfax Media doing the investigation.
Greg Sherriff does a good job of summarizing the point in one sentence:
“What this does highlight is how easy it is to set up a company in New Zealand to facilitate a foreign interest to use it as a vehicle. It’s shocking.”
I think that’s the same point Richard has been trying to make with the series of sarcastic articles, but sometimes you need to use small words so that politicians will understand.
Thanks for the nudge on Fairfax – post updated.
At some point I will have to do a roundup post about all the crazy things that are going wrong and whether the proposed legislation will address them.
Some of our politicians may be too attached to idealistic principles. Some are certainly incompetent. But I’ll bet that many appreciate the opportunities offered by potentially lucrative overseas contacts and having a flow of *any* sort of money in the vicinity. Consider the PM’s career history, which includes a stint as a currency trader on Wall Street, iirc.
Another victory for the City of London’s odious empire. Hapless UK nationals can’t stick fifty quid into a Credit Union account without triggering a money laundering investigation and eliciting police attention. At the same time Taylor’s undoubtedly enjoying a prawn cocktail lunch with Mervyn King.
How long before the City’s criminal authorities simply arrest the honest for domestic subversion? “You’re here to do something productive, sir, and this is your own money? Are you a member of the Communist Party? Please step this way sir, and don’t make a fuss.”
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