New Zealand: the Shell Company Incorporation Franchises (I)

International shell company formation naturally involves franchising and outsourcing deals.

If, like Global SC Ltd, this year’s alias for notorious company agent GT Group, you market yourself as a global incorporator (click the image to make it readable; good luck if you are on a mobile device)…

Global SC

…then simply making a referral, for a small fee, can be a good way to manipulate the economics of sporadic incorporation activity. Or you might slap your brand on top of some other local expert’s offering. Either way, you avoid the fixed overhead of a load of locals that you have to train and pay and retain, and handle peak workload via your outsourced incorporator or franchisee.

For the really offbeat stuff (maybe the Seychelles, Mauritius, Vanuatu, St Kitts and Nevis, Vanuatu) you might have your genuine in-house distinctive offering and long term trusted employees; in those cases, the specialist premium takes care of the economics of employee retention.

So much for the outsourcing happy talk: an equally compelling reason for the likes of Taylor to work via other company agents is obfuscation, plain and simple.

But if there are other ‘tells’, such as heavy use of a small set of stooge directors, the outsourcing deal and the underlying network are still detectable. Just such a deal seems to have been going on between GT Group of New Zealand and The Company Net of New Zealand.  Among the tells are GT Group stooge Agnes Jouaneau, shared by GT Group and The Company Net, and Leah Toureleo, who is employed by GT Group and successors, and also shared by GT Group and The Company Net.

Those stooges were just too conspicuous. The NZ Registrar of Companies spotted most of that joint Company Net/GT Group network and all quite a lot of those companies were struck off. It would have been great if the Registrar had pulled off a clean sweep, but, as we saw in a previous post in this series, he didn’t.

Another GT Group franchising deal surfaces when one scrutinizes the fleeting New Zealand presence of another big-time offshore incorporator, Unitrust, who have this to say about themselves:

Our parent firm Unitrust Corporate Services Ltd. was founded in 1993. It is a highly skilled Canadian incorporator with a considerable clientele mostly in the former Soviet Union.

Unitrust Capital Corp. was established in 2000 as a specialized firm within the Unitrust Group to provide offshore and onshore incorporation and corporate services to the clients based in Canada, USA, European Union, Asia, Africa, South America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Unitrust Capital Corp. is licensed by the Anguilla government for online company formation and other corporate services in Anguilla. We are proudly a corporate member of Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Unitrust Capital Corp. is a verified PayPal merchant.

Since July 2000 we’ve incorporated more than 3,000 companies in the following jurisdictions: Anguilla, Alderney (Channel Islands), Bahamas, Belize, BVI, Canada (Federal Corporations, New Brunswick, Ontario), Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Liberia,, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Nevis, New Zealand, Panama, Seychelles, United Kingdom, USA (Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, District Columbia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, New York State, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming).


Company formation, offshore bank accounts opening, corporate services

I do hope all the jurisdictions mentioned are cheered by that endorsement. Alas, the New Zealand end of this splendid business didn’t last all that long. Unitrust were using GT Group’s notorious serviced office at Level 5 Queen Street as a drop-off address. That bespeaks a certain level of collaboration between GT Group and Unitrust, of course.

When that address got too hot, Unitrust moved to 334 Te Atatu Road. Unfortunately, that is the address of another renowned cowboy incorporator, Bizoffice, sister company of The Company Net Limited, which registered 3,000+ dodgy offshore companies, including a good thousand with obvious connections to organized crime. So Unitrust, via their addresses, were kinda drawing attention to themselves, in New Zealand.

Raising their profile some more, their New Zealand incorporation vehicle, Unitrust Corporate Services Limited, was directed by renowned offshore stooge Sarah Petre-Mears, snapshotted here “in charge” of 1251 dodgy companies worldwide. The New Zealand Registrar of companies couldn’t overlook that, and Unitrust Corporate Services Limited was struck off, at last, on 18 Jun 2013. By the way, Sarah Petre-Mears has a husband, Edward; he’ll turn up in a minute.

Unitrust’s identifiable portfolio of New Zealand companies, which they proudly mention in their blurb, are in fact just 7 in number, all registered on 06 Dec 2010 and all struck off since then. They aren’t especially distinguished: Altec Alliance limited sported a director called Tracy Khdir, a name associated with rental scams in this German blog. Holtwood Group Limited had a director called Barbara Glynne McGee, a name associated with rental scams at Scamwarners. There’s another McGee at the same address in another Unitrust company registered on the same day, Dalewood Enterprises, so that company just might have something to do with rental scams too.  Mindful of identity theft, one should remember that the actual Ms Khdir, or the actual McGees, assuming they even exist, may have no involvement whatsoever in the scams.

One might reasonably conjecture that these 7 companies, Unitrust’s entire known NZ portfolio, are all the handiwork of one ring of, um, rental scammers, but three out of seven in one day’s incorporation is already a high enough hit rate, even on this tiny sample, to suggest that Unitrust have a touch of sleaze about them.

Unitrust sound rather lame and small time, don’t they? Well, that would be the wrong impression to take away. Here’s a corrective from The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, reviewing the companies and company incorporators associated with various dodgy moguls:

Sean Quinn

• Soverint Holdings; Lyndhurst Development

• The bankrupt Irishman is alleged to use offshore entities to hide Russian activities and profits. The Quinn family, once lionised as “Ireland’s richest,” are being pursued after the collapse of the Allied Irish Bank, for alleged debts to the bank of more than £2bn. This follows a buying spree of Russian property, commenced in 2007, including shopping malls in Moscow and Kiev bought via offshore companies. Since Quinn’s bankruptcy, Irish courts have declared that assets have been shuffled away into other offshore companies in a dishonest “charade.” As a result, Quinn is currently serving a 9-week prison sentences imposed by a Dublin court for contempt.

• Company formation: Unitrust, London and Canada

• Quinn denies any wrongdoing

Vladimir Antonov

• Danforth Ventures Inc; Paterson Association Inc; Griffon Properties [Jersey]; . . . and others

• This major Russian oligarch and one-time Portsmouth FC owner is fighting extradition from London, following collapse of a Lithuanian bank and assassination attempts. The Danforth entity was used to buy a superyacht in 2007 in Antibes in the south of France. The 37-year-old Antonov also allegedly used offshore entities to hide property holdings. He moved to Notting Hill in west London after his father narrowly survived an assassination attempt in Moscow by Chechen hitmen. Antonov is now accused of looting the assets of the Snoras bank in Lithuania, which is trying to have him extradited on a European arrest warrant. Assets worth €492m (£397m) have been frozen. As director, he used his business associate Vladimir Oplanchuk, then nominee director Edward Petre-Mears in Nevis.

• Company formation: Unitrust, London and Canada

• Antonov’s lawyers say the allegations are politically motivated, following articles criticizing the government published by an Antonov media company.

Unitrust work for rental scammers one minute, billionaires and oligarchs the next. That’s really not such a big contrast,  is it? It’s mostly a matter of scale.

Another mistaken impression that one might take away from the demise of Unitrust in New Zealand is that these obfuscatory “franchising” deals between offshore agents aren’t so great for hiding what’s going on, after all. That’s wrong. Unitrust is relatively inept and unlucky; others have hidden themselves better, or have had better fortune. We will penetrate superior camouflage, and do our best to rain on some more dodgy parades, in future posts.

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  1. allcoppedout

    The situation reminds me more and more of old cautionary tales. We have to do evil things like sending virgin daughters off to satisfy the Jabberwock or destitution will rain down upon us. The Jabberwock is global competition, an arena where the very fraud, thieving and killing we don’t want within the city walls is conducted by gladiators slaying demons that will otherwise visit themselves on our comfortable lives. We must send out our gladiators free of our prissy rules to this fight,

    These cautionary tales are whispered in politicians’ ears, the “secret” rules of the game. The words may now be “being open for business”. We can’t do obvious fixes like establishing a transparent money system. There will be nothing to pay our gladiators with and without them the Jabberwock will come.

    1. ambrit

      You seem to have left out the Frumious Bandersnatch. Wasn’t it the Banker who led the charge? Didn’t the Bankers machinations fail to deter the Bandersnatch? Finally, didn’t the arrival of the rest of the party save the Banker? There’s a moral hidden somewhere about, if I could only scry it. Dratted Crystal! As useful as an Economists Incantation!

  2. allcoppedout

    Remember, Hobambrit, I have gandalfed with the economists’ spellbook in my long journey through the valley of dark to these margins of hope. To escape the Chains of Medici and live to form the armies to face massing current Hoards of One Percent Solution, it was I who gave life to the Bold Banker Myth to crystallise ludicrous propaganda jelly so we can smash it apart. The story of the Doge of Venice, blind and 85 leaping ashore at Constantinople, to win the battle against the Ottoman, was mine. It was meant as a cautionary tale against the folly of a rich old fool commanding a navy to return a box to keep bed linen in. How was I to know they would cast an opportunity cost spell and make people prefer to believe it true!

  3. ambrit

    Most Esteemed Magister;
    Well we know that Glamour is the preferred spell used today by the Minions of the Hidden Masters. I hope you have not cracked open the covers of that dreaded Tome, the Necroeconomicon! That way truly lies madness! (As distinct from cognitive dissonance.)
    If only the Alchemists Creed were true; As Above, So Below. Perhaps that was why they were so assiduously suppressed. The Alchemists sought the common vital spirit in all living things. The Hidden Masters reject such, mistakenly believing themselves superior to everyone and everything else. Love conquers all? No, Love subverts all.

  4. allcoppedout

    I’ve just stared my book thanks to your inspiration Ambrit. The New Zealand tag seems to be putting to American natives off, though they may be at slumber or cubicle labour. Odd in a coincidental way that NZ is now Middle Earth silver screen.

    Susan may be in shortly, claiming we have Homeric intent. We must note her as a colleague of sharp wit and in on the code. That the Frumious Bandersnatch has been active in the antipodes has long been a matter of concern and with our stretched resources only have Skippy deployed at some distance, though he assures his son is on quest for the Magic Boomerang (NC passim). Meantime we must laud diversionary attempts at truth expose Bandersnatch knows cannot hurt through its disposition of bought-and-paid-for politicians and media Harpies. Fear not stout friend. These dark days are heralded to crash.

  5. ambrit

    I feel the need to thank Richard Smith here for his never ending pursuit of the Snark that is confidence men and women and the shell companies they create and exploit. These loathsome creatures do real harm to real people. They are an object lesson in how the entire financial system is perverted to base ends. That and politics, too! Operators are standing by all right! Waiting to get their greedy hands on your money! (Where’s my Shield and Magic Helmet when I need them?)
    Thank you Mr. Smith.

  6. skippy

    Richard tenacity is something to behold.

    skippy… Thanks to Richard efforts a – nice bed – has been made for one such miscreant, in skips paddock, a Royal welcome awaits.

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