Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Shell companies in New Zealand and the international web of corruption

I have produced the following as a resource, simply by searching for articles that relate to the operation of shell companies in New Zealand.

Sometimes this is linked with crime and often it is not but illustrates the lack of transparency in this country’s laws and that it acts not only as a haven for companies to avoid paying tax but also to launder money and hide other activities.

It shows that New Zealand has lost its ‘lily white’ reputation and gives the lie to claims by the government that everything is as it should be.

It may be legal in this country but that does not stop it from being highly unethical.

I hope this will help others to join the dots and indict this government of our deeply-corrupt PM, John Key and his cronies for involvement in the highly-questionable activities of the world elite.

Liars hate the internet and seeing as our political class is composed mainly of professional liars...Travelling back in time is what the internet is all about.”
Mick McCrohn (Facebook)

Shell Companies in New Zealand and Offshore Accounts

The Justice Ministry reported that New Zealand shell companies launder and estimated $1.16 Billion (1.5 Billion New Zealand Dollars) of illicit funds generated by organized crime each year.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand identified around 1,000 New Zealand  limited partnerships and companies that may be used for money laundering activities in foreign off-shore accounts.

Source: Michael Field, “Organised crime exploiting NZ company law,” Sunday Star Times,, December 4, 2011.

Of course no one in the government or John Key knows anything about this. They're as pure as the driven snow.

Brokers Without Borders
How illicit arms brokers can slip through gaps in the Pacific and international arms control system

On 11 December 2009 a 35 tonne cache of conventional weapons left North Korea bound for Iran. The following day the arms were intercepted and seized by authorities in Thailand. In an unexpected twist it was soon discovered that the plane chartered to carry out this illegal transfer was leased by a New Zealand registered shell company. To date those who arranged the transfer have not been held accountable.

The case demonstrates that the existing international arms control system is not adequately combating illicit brokering. Illicit arms brokers continue to use global networks of companies and individuals to exploit regulatory gaps between jurisdictions to carry out their transactions with relative impunity.

An effective Arms Trade Treaty, supported by robust national legislation and regional cooperation, will provide solutions to closing these gaps and stopping the irresponsible trade in deadly weapons.

Executive summary

Since 2006, more than 2,000 people each day have died as a result of armed violence,1 and thousands more have had their human rights violated and their livelihoods undermined by the irresponsible trade and use of deadly weapons. The current international arms control system is failing to adequately regulate the arms trade and hold arms brokers and dealers accountable for their actions. As a result weapons continue to be transferred into environments where they are undermining development and fuelling human rights abuses.

Oxfam has produced this report to examine publically available information about one specific case of illicit arms brokering. Through an analysis of the case and the enabling factors that allowed this illicit transfer to occur, the report identifies key lessons about how states can work together at the domestic, regional and international level to find solutions for the problem of illicit brokering.

On 11 December 2009 a 35 tonne cache of conventional weapons left the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (‘North Korea’) bound for Iran, in violation of the UN arms embargo on North Korea. The following day the arms were intercepted in Bangkok by Thai authorities. In an unexpected twist it was soon discovered that the plane chartered to carry out this illegal transfer was leased by a New Zealand registered company, SP Trading. All of a sudden New Zealand, the country ranked as the world’s most peaceful nation in 2009,2 was linked to one of the biggest international arms trafficking cases that year.

Although the attempted transfer was undoubtedly illicit, to date only a single person linked to the case through the New Zealand registered SP Trading, has been charged.

However SP Trading was only one of as many as eight companies involved at
various levels, with connections to at least ten different countries spanning Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.

These revelations have also demonstrated that while there is a perception that the Pacific has low exposure to arms trafficking, in reality the region is open to exploitation by illicit dealers. Illicit brokers have been able to manipulate gaps in New Zealand sanctions and company law frameworks to evade accountability. Without further action to prosecute those criminally responsible, or legislative action to sufficiently tighten New Zealand’s relevant regulations, the New Zealand system will remain open to further abuse.

Oxfam and a range of other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) making up the Control Arms Campaign, have called for the creation of the first universal, legally binding Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to address the inadequacies of the current international arms control system. An effective ATT could help tackle the problem of illicit brokering by imposing higher common international standards amongst states to hold companies and individuals in their jurisdictions accountable for their role in international arms transfers. This should include regulating their conduct and holding them liable where breaches of international law have occurred. Practically, a comprehensive ATT could provide the framework to resolve jurisdictional issues allowing illicit brokers to avoid prosecution and encourage greater cooperation between states to stamp out such activities. To close the gaps that allow illicit brokers to operate with few constraints, it is therefore critical that the scope of an ATT include effective controls on brokers and brokering transactions

30 July, 29012

When American Jeffery Lowrance pleaded guilty this month to wire fraud and money laundering after running a $25 million Ponzi scheme, he was just the latest in a long list of criminals to take advantage of liberal company laws in New Zealand.

Like those before him, he found that about $130 and a little online paperwork let him set up a shell company in New Zealand without stepping foot in the country or having any financial presence. He registered First Capital Savings & Loan to an Auckland address but ran his scheme from Panama.

The World Bank ranks New Zealand as the easiest place in the world to set up a business, a point of pride for the island nation, which seeks to encourage trade and investment. But the system is open to abuse.

In an alarming case two years ago, a New Zealand shell company, SP Trading, leased an airplane that was seized in Thailand while carrying 35 tons of rocket-propelled grenades, surface-to-air missiles and other weaponry. The plane had picked up the cargo in North Korea and was headed for Iran. The crew, four Kazahks and a Belarusian, were incarcerated and charged with possessing weapons.

Soon after that, New Zealand's Companies Office set up risk-profiling teams to scour the company register for suspect companies. Since 2010, they've found 2,600 illegitimate companies, and have been de-listing companies that don't comply with rules at the rate of more than 1,000 per month. Yet with more than 560,000 companies now registered in New Zealand – one for every eight citizens – the database is large and growing.

And in the case of SP Trading, it wasn't until two months ago that the Companies Office finally removed it from its register of legitimate businesses.

The European Union became concerned enough that last year it struck New Zealand from its so-called "white list" of countries that require only minimal customer due diligence for transactions involving financial and credit institutions. Concerned that New Zealand could be prone to money laundering and terrorist financing, the EU reaffirmed this year that New Zealand wouldn't be on the list, which includes Australia, Canada and the U.S.

That's been an embarrassment for the developed nation that is regularly rated among the world's least corrupt.

Last week, New Zealand's Commerce Minister Craig Foss introduced a bill that he says will tighten the rules by requiring each listed company to have a New Zealand-based agent who will bear some legal responsibility. But even if passed by the parliament, the new law would not come into effect until mid-2013 and would not go far enough to satisfy some critics.

"It's about balance," Foss said in an interview. "We are renowned for our ability to get companies up and running in New Zealand. We need to balance that ease with our obligations to make sure we are doing what we can to stop abuse."

He said the new rules would dovetail with anti-money laundering legislation that is being spearheaded by Justice Minister Judith Collins.

Some say New Zealand has yet to get serious about stopping abuse. Financial blog naked capitalism has repeatedly accused New Zealand of playing the equivalent of the arcade game "Whac-a-Mole" by knocking down illegitimate operators as they pop up but not dealing with the systemic problems that give rise to the abuse.

"There are significant gaps in New Zealand legislation, especially concerning the registration and supervision of companies," said Michalis Rokas, the Chargé d'Affaires for the EU delegation in New Zealand.

Rokas said EU member states will likely review whether New Zealand can be restored to the white list if and when the country enacts the proposed new laws.

Alastair Stewart, a spokesman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, wrote in an email that authorities are aware that operators like Lowrance are abusing the system and they're undertaking a wide program of work "to further reduce the misuse of New Zealand's-registered companies and protect our international reputation."

Records indicate that Lowrance, who once lived in Houston but was last year extradited by federal authorities from Peru, set up his New Zealand company in early 2007. The Companies Office didn't shut it down until mid-2010, eight months after the U.S. District Court of South Dakota issued a $42 million default judgment against Lowrance.

According to another civil judgment filed in Illinois, Lowrance told his 400-plus victims they would get returns of up to 7 percent each month by investing in his foreign currency trading scheme. In fact, Lowrance kept the money for himself, the judgment says, using some of it to fund an unsuccessful religious newspaper called "USA Tomorrow."

Lowrance's victims included a 78-year-old retired Illinois school teacher and a 77-year-old California woman who sold books and flags on eBay.

Under the terms of his plea deal in the criminal case, Lowrance is due to be sentenced later this year to a maximum 15 years, 8 months in prison.


24 May, 2014

Another New Zealand shell company has been linked to an alleged fraud worth more than US$150m - this time involving Ukrainian state-owned companies.

The company, Falcona Systems Ltd of Albany, Auckland, was struck off the New Zealand Company Register last October but only after it was used to gain $150m in kickbacks for Ukrainian and Latvian officials, according to East European media reports.

The latest allegations involving New Zealand shell companies comes five days after Fairfax Media was told by the Latvia Finance Ministry that New Zealand had been struck off a European Union banking and corporate ''white list'' over our weak money laundering and terrorism financing controls.

Latvian authorities said they moved after revelations Tormex Ltd, of Queen Street, Auckland, allegedly washed US$680m through a Riga bank account - no explanation of where the money came from or went. However, a multi-national investigation points to the Russian Mafia.

Two years ago another New Zealand shell company, SP Trading Ltd of the same Queen Street address, was found to have chartered a Georgian registered plane to fly embargo-busting arms from North Korea to an unknown Middle Eastern state. They were intercepted in Bangkok.

The shell company creators behind SP and Tormex are not involved in the latest allegations.

New Zealand companies can be created online for just $153.33 and while Commerce Minister Craig Foss has said action is being taken to tighten registrations, nothing has happened. Foss is in Japan and could not be reached for comment.

Ukrainian newspaper Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, reported in an English language version by Ukrainian Journal, said the country's state-owned ChornomorNaftoGaz oil company shelled out $400m in April to buy an oil rig from Highway Investment Processing Llp, a UK-registered company.

It said that the same oil rig, named West Juno and produced by Keppel of Singapore, was sold to an undisclosed UK company for $248.5m on April 13, and that the only other company that participated at the tender, Falcona Systems Ltd, allegedly offered the same oil rig at $410m.

Dzerkalo Tyzhnia claimed that as a result of the deal the Ukraine overpaid US$150m for the rig - and it suspects the money has gone in kickbacks.

Falcona Systems has its registered office at 23/17 Georgia Terrace, Albany, Auckland. Fairfax investigations found an unoccupied townhouse.

Its solitary director is Inta Bilder of Latvia. A search of the Company Register shows 942 results for Bilder as director and shareholder.

Falcona Systems main shareholder is Interhold Ltd, of Level 4, 44 Khyber Pass, Grafton, Auckland. It, in turn, is owned by Genhold Ltd, of the same address, with a Panama-resident director. Genhold is in turn 100 per cent-owned by Trust (NZ) Holdings Ltd of the same address. Its sole director and shareholder refused to comment on the company's ownership.

Dzerkalo Tyzhnia newspaper names an Erick Vanagels as being involved with both Highway and Falcona.

A search for Vanagel's name in the Company Register produces 318 results with both Panama and Latvia addresses.

British based lobby group openDemocracy said Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko boasted in April that the state agency had purchased a modern drilling rig for $400m. But it said its real price may have been $150m less.

The group said its investigations showed that Highway Investment was fictitious.

Diplomatic sources said jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was demanding European anti-corruption institutions, including the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, launch an investigation into Boyko and his Latvian, UK and New Zealand links.

Tymoshenko is in jail after being convicted over alleged corruption in gas deals with Russia.

She has staged a high profile hunger strike over torture allegations.

Last week Latvia's Deputy State Secretary on financial policy issues in the Ministry of Finance, Arina Andreicika, said New Zealand and Russia had been struck of the EU white list.

She said the EU had acted on the ''evaluation of the report on New Zealand laws and regulations of money laundering and terrorist financing prevention in compliance with international requirements and the level of corruption in the Russian Federation''.

Being struck off the white list means that banks and institutions in Latvia and the EU ''will not be entitled any more to make simplified research for banks and financial institutions registered in New Zealand and Russia''.

It also means European institutions can no longer ''accept and acknowledge'' customer identification and analysis'' performed in New Zealand.



2 July, 2012

New Zealand companies with a vacant driveway in Auckland's Albany as a registered address have been key players in a US$1.2 billion (NZ$1.5b) money laundering scandal in central Asia that helped bring down a government and sparked deadly riots.

A report by London based non-profit NGO Global Witness offers more embarrassing revelations over company formations that in May saw New Zealand struck off a prestigious European Union banking "white list" because of weak money laundering and terrorism financing rules.

The report also outed several recurring director/shareholder names on the New Zealand's Companies Office register that are likely to be low-paid fronts for unknown people who control the shell companies.

Global Witness' 90-page report 'Grave Secrecy' shows how New Zealand, British and Bulgarian companies moved billions of dollars in suspicious transactions at AsiaUniversalBank (AUB), Kyrgyzstan's largest bank.

AUB was nationalised and found by the authorities to be insolvent after a revolution overthrew the regime of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April 2010.

Bakiyev and his son Maxim Bakiyev fled the country as nearly 100 people died in the revolt.

The new Kyrgyz authorities nationalised AUB and said it discovered it was engaged in large-scale money laundering. An independent audit by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development supported the claims.

Global Witness obtained AUB documentation from the international SWIFT inter-bank system to find out where the money had gone, including US$240 million in the Bakiyev's last week in power.

It discovered New Zealand shell companies with no apparent business activities moving millions through AUB.

Global Witness said the shell companies "may have facilitated an extensive money laundering scheme at AUB that took advantage of its correspondent banking relationships to transfer money out of Kyrgyzstan to banks all over the world".

It then searched for the companies listed in SWIFT documents to find out where they were incorporated and what business they were involved in.

Most of the companies were incorporated in New Zealand, the UK or Belize after Bakiyev's rise to power in March 2005.

"Most importantly, many of them are linked to each other via the company service providers that registered them," Global Witness said.

Three of the companies had no real business in Kyrgyzstan but moved US$1.2b through their AUB accounts in less than two years.

Global Witness point to Lenymar Ltd, a company incorporated in New Zealand in November 2007 and struck off last September.

When formed, its registered address was what appears to be an unused driveway in Albany, Auckland. Its address for service was in Latvia and its director was Izeth Tapia of Panama. She was director of 630 registered New Zealand companies, most now struck off.

Global Witness reached Tapia and she denied any connection to the Bakiyev family.

Asked who the actual owners of the companies she directed were, the report quoted her saying: "I live with my little baby in a small town in the interior of the country and I have no job, no work for anyone, I've only been a nominal head these corporations and I have nothing more to say about this topic."

Lenymar's last registered address was 69 Ridge Road, Albany, also the registered address of Company Net Ltd.

Global Witness said Lenymar made over 1,300 transactions in just over a year, the majority of them suspicious transactions with other shell companies.

Other New Zealand companies found in AUB were Craftur Viss Ltd, Jorgentur, Merbayer and Co Ltd, Volnegar Ltd and Piar Active Ltd - all with Ridge Road as an address, with Tapia as sole director and all now struck off.

The companies, and those in UK, Belize and Bulgaria, had no obvious links but in what Global Witness called an "extraordinary situation" they could not find any evidence any of them were engaged in any meaningful 'real' business.

In 14 months, Volnegar's AUB account received US$115m from another shell company.

Lenymar Ltd moved US$224m through its account.

Glenn Smith, the director of The Company Net, has not returned calls to Fairfax or Global Witness about AUB.

In May, when Latvia revealed the role of New Zealand companies in corruption, leading to the striking from the EU white list, Mr Smith said he had not dealt with offshore clients for over a year.

"We ceased offering services to any offshore client once we became aware of the potential uses of the companies they were forming, and we continue to offer assistance to the NZ authorities in their efforts to tighten up the legislative loopholes," Smith said then.

Global Witness said nobody who seriously intends to launder money attempts to do so by opening accounts in their own name these days.

"The UK, New Zealand, and the wider international community, need to address the fact that 'onshore' nations have become just as much a part of the 'offshore' problem as sunny Caribbean islands and are therefore a critical link in the 'supply chain' for corruption."


26 November, 2012

New Zealand is facing more international embarrassment over the ease with which fake entities from around the world can register as companies here.

The Guardian, the BBC and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists have launched a year-long project to expose a global network of sham company directors behind more than 21,500 companies.

One of the biggest directors revealed by the study is a woman whose name features in the Companies Office here as a director and shareholder.
Many of the connections the new study cites include New Zealand.

Over the past two years numerous cases have emerged of companies registered here being fronts for international money laundering of drug money, fraud and terrorism involving characters ranging from the Russian Mafia to Mexican drug lords.

New Zealand allows anybody to register a company online from anywhere in the world. This has seen the country struck off a favoured European Union bank list because of money laundering by New Zealand-registered companies in LatviaCommerce Minister Craig Foss is working on getting legislation that would tighten the rules passed through Parliament.

ICIJ director Gerard Ryle said the organisation was using specialist software to crunch through hundreds of thousands of company entities to find patterns.

"We are marrying our findings with old-fashioned shoe leather and interviews from key insiders who can provide further context on this little known and loosely regulated world."

The ICIJ report, which has a front page splash in the Guardian and a documentary on the BBC’s Panorama, has identified and plans to name all 28 nominees they say play a key role in keeping hundreds of thousands of commercial transactions secret.

They do so by selling their names for use on official company documents, whilst giving addresses in obscure locations all over the world.

"They are of widely varying types, ranging from Russian oligarchs to perfectly legal but discreet speculators in the British property market," the study said. "Their only common factor: the wish for secrecy."

Those names include Geoffrey Taylor and his son Ian who have acted as directors many companies in New Zealand, the British Virgin Islands, Britain and Vanuatu.

They were behind SP Trading Ltd, a Queen Street based shell company, which was used in 2009 by a Kazakh businessman to fly arms from North Korea to Iran. They were instead seized in Thailand.

Ian Taylor told ICUJ his father had retired. He said that "only a small handful" of their companies were misused.

"Clients of certain nationalities are discriminated against only due to their citizenship. Some clients require privacy to avoid problems from jealous family members," Taylor said.

Also named in the study is British couple Sarah and Edward Petre-Mears who live on the Caribbean island of Nevis and have sold their services to more than 2000 entities with activities ranging from Russian luxury property purchases, to pornography and casino sites.

A Companies Office search here reveals 32 companies with the Petre-Mears directorship/shareholder links.

A number of them give the same Queen Street, Auckland, address used by the Taylors to create SP Trading. Some companies with Queen Street addresses have been struck off, but both couples still have active companies here.

A number are registered to a house at 334 Te Atatu Road in Auckland which is a set of flats.

The company names give no clue to their activities and include Progress Innovation, CN Export Services, Kazantip, and Christchurch registered Pan Pacific International Trading.

On the registration the Petre-Mears give their address as Shaw’s Estate, Newcastle, St James Paris, Nevis. The study said Sarah Petre-Mears, 38, appeared to be running one of the biggest business empires on Earth. It said her actual location was mysterious.

The UK companies register lists 12 different addresses for her, several in London. But none are real homes: several are Post Office boxes, collecting mail for hundreds of different locations, while others merely house the offices of incorporation agencies.

They eventually located her on Nevis but she did not want to talk

26 March, 2013

Until it was shut down last year, the company registration business of New Zealander Ian Taylor was one of the most outrageous examples of the criminal services industry – companies that enable organized crime, terrorists and corrupt government officials to steal money, evade taxes and hide ownership. Now Taylor is back – with a new company and a new host country.

Publika TV is one of the largest television stations broadcasting in the Republic of Moldova, yet oddly, despite its influence and importance, it is impossible to determine who really owns it. On paper, the man who runs the company in charge of Publika is  Anatoli Zosciuc, 46, a Ukrainian-born former mechanic and customs inspector.

Zosciuc does not have the resume of a media magnate. He is likely just a proxy.

Anatoli Zosciuc

Proxies are individuals whose names are used in the place of real owners who want to hide their identities as beneficiaries of companies. Proxies often do this for a fee, but sometimes they are victims of identity theft and don’t even know they are directors. OCCRP tried to reach Zosciuc but he did not answer his phone.

Publika’s ownership is even more complex, and troubling.

Publika is owned by a Moldovan corporation called Stiri Media Group, which in turn, is owned by a Rochdale International Limited of New Zealand.

Rochdale is owned by a nested set of companies that lead to another proxy – like a set of Russian Matrioshka dolls that fit one inside the other. This complex structure effectively obscures Publika’s true ownership and finances.

Rochdale International Limited is a phantom or shell company – a company that has no office, no staff and no bank accounts. It exists on paper to hide the real owners and beneficiaries.

The nominal director, or proxy, of Rochdale is the controversial offshore company formation agent Ian Taylor.


The business of Ian Taylor and his family is to register companies.  They are well known to reporters, law enforcement, due diligence professionals, lawyers and others.  Beginning in November of 2010, OCCRP published articles detailing how Taylor and his family helped build a network of offshore companies that criminals used to launder money, evade taxes and hide their identity through phantom companies. The reports showed how Russian crime networks and Asian organized crime groups, among others, used companies registered by the Taylors.

In the wake of the OCCRP report, New Zealand authorities cracked down  on the Taylors.. In June of 2011, New Zealand authorities forced the shuttering of the Taylor’s registration empire including GT Group, the notorious registration agent used by so many criminals and terrorists over the years.  Their businesses in the Pacific island of Vanuatu also closed. Thousands of the companies they had registered were delisted.

But Ian Taylor is back in business helping to hide the ownership of Moldova’s media.

The Taylors never ceased doing business in New Zealand. They just changed tactics, re-branded and shifted to a new website.

OCCRP discovered an active website,, that performs the same services in New Zealand that Ian Taylor said  had been stopped.  The website registered the phantom company Rochdale International, which links to  Publika in Moldova through Stiri Media.

The website offers services that can be used to launder money and evade taxes including:

  • Providing a pre-registered offshore company in a popular tax haven
  • Opening and operating offshore bank accounts. 
  • Creating “nominee directors” and “nominee shareholders” to serve as proxies which allows hiding the real owners.
  • Creating an offshore address with a Registered Agent.

They also can create a “Virtual Office” because, according to the website:

“Many businesses throughout the world suffer from poor location when entering the international market. A Virtual Office allows you to give the appearance of being located in a country known for its highly regarded and clean reputation.”

While none of these services are illegal and the Taylors offer services  available from many other firms, what distinguished them is  the remarkable array of criminals using their services.

In June of 2011, in breaking the news to his customers that the registration business would shutter, Taylor told his current customers that they would be transferred to another firm that would “incorporate a new structure in a reputable Asian jurisdiction” with services provided by “a bank you will already know and trust.”

Taylor’s customers appear to have been transferred to another Taylor-controlled firm with a new address. The website’s contact information lists the Menara Citibank in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Asia — as its mailing address.

OCCRP called the offices of but a secretary in Kuala Lumpur said Ian Taylor was not there and no one was available to talk about the company’s business.


According to Internet registration information, the website of the firm was registered in 2009 to Charlie Kalopungi, a known proxy the Taylor family has used. It appears that many of the shell companies in New Zealand that Kalopungi and other proxies served as directors or shareholders were abruptly “struck off” (closed) in or before July 2011, when the authorities cracked down in New Zealand. But the Taylors had already begun migrating work to Malaysia and the majority of the new New Zealand-based shell companies offered on the site list Ian Taylor and a new proxy, Angelique Lilley, as directors or shareholders.

Rochdale International Limited was incorporated on Feb. 22, 2011. By Dec. 31, 2011, the company had changed addresses, Ian Taylor had changed addresses and the shareholder, RSHRS Limited had changed addresses. On Feb. 16, 2012, Lilley, the new proxy, became director and shareholder of a phantom company called Atherstone Limited. Atherstone, through a web of other shell  companies, holds all the shares of RSHRS Limited and in turn, Rochdale International Limited.

Lilley, who listed her occupation as “mother,” as late as 2009 in New Zealand records, is now the proxy shareholder of one the biggest media companies in the Republic of Moldova.

Approached by a Fairfax New Zealand reporter at her back section house in Nayland Rd, Stoke, this week, Ms Lilley declined to answer questions or be photographed.

“I’m not doing anything wrong, I’m just working,” she said.

She said incorrect information about “us” had been printed in the past but wouldn’t say who she was working for, or confirm any relationship with Geoffrey or Ian Taylor.

“Those are the names that always come up.”

Asked about ownership of the Moldova television station, she asked for the station’s name, and wrote it down.

She later said by email: “Thank you for your enquiry. I offer legitimate nominee services. I have no knowledge of a TV station in Europe. Have a lovely weekend.”
A man in the house with her used a phone to photograph or film the reporter and photographer, and would not give his name.

Who is Really Behind Publika

Before being owned by Rochdale International Limited, Publika was owned by a company from Cyprus called Bluelink Comunicazione. This company was founded by Sorin Ovidiu Vintu, a Romanian currently serving jail time on blackmail charges (P9_VINTU_JAIL). The same Bluelink is still a majority shareholder  of a news television station in Romania, Realitatea TV. There are numerous connections between Taylor and Vintu.

Taylor has long partnered with Lazlo Kiss, a Romanian registry agent currently charged along with Vintu by Romanian authorities with embezzlement and money laundering via offshore companies. According to Romanian prosecution records, Kiss, whose own company is registered in New Zealand and owned on paper by Taylor, allegedly helped set up Romanian money laundering schemes for Vintu.

Taylor’s network of proxies also thrives outside of New Zealand and Eastern Europe.

Lilley is listed as director of more than a dozen shell companies based in England. 

Most of Charlie Kalopungi’s shell companies in New Zealand appear to have been struck off, but he is active as a proxy in other countries, like Panama. Other proxies include directors Victor Manuel Perez Acosta, who has an address in Mexico, and Nesita Mercea, who was struck off most of the New Zealand companies, but is also the director of more than 50 shell companies based in England.


The offshore financial networks that shroud company ownership also depend on government regulations that allow them to set up shop.

In an email to OCCRP, Alastair Stewart, the communications advisor in the New Zealand Ministry of Economic Development, wrote:

“As an open economy, New Zealand company law allows any person to form a company, so long as the company has a name, shares, at least one shareholder, and at least one director.”

According to Stewart, New Zealand authorities are taking additional steps to strengthen the financial regulatory system and anti-money laundering frameworks, including passing the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) of 2009 that “will increase the ability of government and the financial sector to deter and detect money laundering and terrorist financing, and will substantially enhance New Zealand’s compliance with the FATF standards.”

Unfortunately, the law is unlikely to take full effect until June of 2013.

The Taylors do not appear to have broken New Zealand law. However, the Taylors’ activities have cost New Zealand international credibility.

In February of 2012, the European Union struck New Zealand from the banking and corporate “white list,” in part because a Taylor-registered firm appeared to be engaged in massive money laundering through Latvian banks.  (see the Proxy Platform)  The removal meant that the EU would not recognize or acknowledge New Zealand’s “know your customer” analyses due to the country’s weak anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism laws.

Taylor could not be reached for comment.

Reported and Written by Ion Preasca, Mihai Munteanu and Matt Sarnecki

5th April, 2016

Leaked documents show Samoa's High Commission in Australia was involved in setting up shell companies through Panama.

Documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca have been given to several media organisations and show the process for setting up shell companies in offshore jurisdictions, and the involvement of Samoa's mission.

The High Commission said it was required to forward documents for processing only, while notarisation and legalisation of documents were done by Samoa's authorities at home.

Most of the activity has centred on British territories, but also includes the US state of Nevada.

Intermediaries used by the Panamanian firm are shown to be based in a range of countries, including Hong Kong, Switzerland, Britain and Luxembourg.

5 April, 2016

A New Zealander has fronted as a director for thousands of shell companies revealed in the leaked Panama Papers as being tax havens for the world's ultra rich.

Ian Taylor is listed as the director of thousands of companies identified in the 11 million leaked documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca that show how foreign investors can hide their income in secretive trusts.

Taylor was identified by ABC's Four Corners show as a "shady New Zealander" who has been living in Australia for the last ten years.

Taylor and his father have been embroiled in scandal previously when one of their shell companies was linked to a plane that was stopped en route to Iran with millions of dollars of illegal arms supplied from North Korea on board.

In the Four Corners piece Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism, said Taylor was among the people who around the world who rented their names to companies that needed directors in tax havens.

"Ian Taylor will be the director of thousands of companies around the world and he won't have a clue what any of those companies are doing," he told ABC.

Unaoil bribery scandal: New Zealand shell company linked to Unaoil scandal
The Ahsani clan (from left) Saman, Cyrus and Ata, who run the Monaco-based oil company Unaoil at the centre of worldwide ...

The Unaoil company at the centre of a global oil industry bribery network appears to be owned by a New Zealand shell company.

A Fairfax Media investigation of Unaoil obtained a document which shows the "wiring diagram" for the network of Unaoil entities through which giant multi-national companies channelled bribes to corrupt officials in oil-producing countries including Iran, Iraq and Libya.

After a six-month investigation across two continents, Fairfax Media (publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Stuff) revealed on Thursday that billions of dollars of government contracts were awarded as the direct result of bribes paid on behalf of firms including British icon Rolls-Royce, US giant Halliburton, Australia's Leighton Holdings and Korean heavyweights Samsung and Hyundai.

The investigation centres on a Monaco company called Unaoil, run by the jet-setting Ahsani family.

The leaked evidence of its own internal email cache demonstrated that the multimillion-dollar fees Unaoil takes from its clients were funnelled into an industrial scale bribery operation which further entrenches corruption among the powerful few.

The wiring diagram appears to show Unaoil is owned by UNA Energy Group Holding of Singapore, and that in turn is owned by UnaEnergy Trustees based in Auckland.

But the Auckland company is just a link in the chain, and it is owned in turn by Fleetwood Trustees, based in the tax haven of St Kitts and Nevis.

The Auckland company has three directors, but two at least appear to be trusts specialists who make a living providing professional services to others.

They are Monaco-based Lesley Ann Fogden from Rosemont Monaco SAM, which calls itself a "multi-family office services company, which manages trusts, corporations, foundations and other legal structures and their underlying assets for multiple wealthy families".

The Auckland company's only New Zealand-based director is Richard Gordon Wilson, who is a foreign trusts expert from Jackson Russell Lawyers, a Shortland Street law firm.

Wilson said: "UnaEnergy Trustees Limited is a trustee of a trust established for UNA Energy, and holds the shares in a holding company based in Singapore".

"We just act on instructions from an outfit in Monaco which runs family offices for wealthy clients," Wilson said.

That organisation was Rosemont, for which Jackson Russell sets up New Zealand trust arrangements.

"They are a very reputable organisation of English professionals," Wilson said.

He said his involvement was minimal, and he was not involved with the day to day operations of UNA Energy.

"The rest of the story is news to me," he said.

"I am not at liberty to talk without clients' instructions."

New Zealand has a substantial foreign trust industry. Trustee companies based in New Zealand can be used to own companies and assets located overseas. Income those assets earn is not taxable in New Zealand.

When he was in Parliament, former Green Party co-leader Russel Norman fought for a tightening up of regulations around the use by foreigners of New Zealand trusts and companies, which were easy to set up.

Now as executive director of Greenpeace, Norman is an opponent of big oil.

He said the New Zealand Unaoil link would put the spotlight back on the New Zealand trust industry.

"It will certainly draw attention to all of the problems that have been previously identified in the way New Zealand companies and trusts system still works, and the very weak regulation around it," Norman said.

New Zealanders were proud of the country's reputation as being corruption free. "It's part of our identity," he said

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