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.