Francois Gillain, Finance Suisse, and Panama

Finance Suisse is a financial management company based in Switzerland, and it was set up by Roland K. Staub. Its website indicates that it has a New Zealand office, led by Francois Gillain, and a Panama office (with no officers listed). The French-born Gillain, a resident of Whangaporoa (just north of Auckland), appears to have assumed directorships in a number of companies linked to Finance Suisse. He was also convicted of 3 fraud and 2 forgery charges in 2003, and, despite being a former IRD employee, got a 2 year sentence served as home detention.

The Finance Suisse website makes it look legitimate, but the presence of Gillain in New Zealand, and unspecified links to Panama, suggest that it is at the more dodgy end of the foreign trust industry. Now there are quite a few companies linked by Gillain’s recent involvement. But it seems to have begun with a small accountancy firm in Queenstown, in the South Island, known as Beanies on the Run Ltd. Beanies is a colloquial term for accountants, and Queenstown is a winter sports hub and alpine resort, which makes it a natural link to Switzerland. But the link to Panama seems to have been established by a Robert Christopher Moore, resident in Panama, and until recently the presenter of the documents for Finance Suisse (NZ), Panasuisse (NZ), and Panasuisse Holding Ltd.

Robert Moore is also either the key director and/or shareholder of these companies, which are all linked by Kensington Services Ltd. Kensington Services Corp  was listed as a shareholder in the other companies until March 2015, when it is transferred from the Republic of Panama to the New Zealand register. The shareholder is listed as Walter Staub of India, presumably related to Roland Staub, and the director is Gillain. Moore seems to have phased himself out of New Zealand directorships from 2015, although there is still a strong Panamanian presence through the nominee directors Doria Imelda Yunda Mina (often referred to as Doria Yunda), and Ingrid Vanessa Sucre Yunda (or Ingrid Sucre).

Now one of the obvious questions is whether all this is linked to the operations of Mossack Fonseca. One of these New Zealand companies run by Panasuisse Holding, named the Chacon Trust Services Ltd, does appear to be linked. Its two directors prior to Gillain’s involvement were Panamanian based: Daisy Chacon Aparicio and Nelson Leonardo Rodriguez Vargas, both from the same address in Panama. There is a New York Times article from 6 June on the Panama Papers, and accompanying documents on the website refer to a Daisy Chacon as being a Mossack Fonseca employee. There is another New Zealand registered company, Atlantic Capital Ltd, that is now removed, but did involve a Mahendra Narottam Bakhda for a period in 2014. Articles in the Kenyan press link Bakhda to a Peter Bonde Nielsen, a Danish national, whose Titan companies are linked to Mossack Fonseca.

Meanwhile, Robert Moore doesn’t just deal with Panamanian companies for Panasuisse, the links with Queenstown also include companies from the British Virgin Islands. In July 2013, Moore arranged for Carlotta Estates Inc. to be moved from the BVI register to New Zealand. He remained a director of Carlotta Estate Ltd from September 2013 until Gillain also got on board. There may have been a similar arrangement for Gem Maritime Partners Ltd, which was transferred from Panasuisse to a Manraj Singh Bindra, based in Dubai.There are a number of other companies with a transposed look, such as Laukar Holdings and Bel Air Financial Enterprises, which both have the Panamanian women as directors. Roland Staub appears as a director for Farringdon Holdings, which also owns Richmond Enterprises Holdings Ltd. Moore has another holding company vehicle called Silvertown Management, which in turns owns a number of companies run by Panasuisse.

Finance Suisse appears to offer the same foreign trust and company vehicles in New Zealand that other firms do. But is the role of Gillain evidence of something more dodgy? At one stage there was company called Genius Management that Panasuisse took over the shareholding in from a company called Unihold, which was based in Auckland. Unihold was run by a gentleman named Manti Effronsyni, listed as living in Cyprus, whose activities have been examined by the Naked Capitalism blog. Panasuisse had the shareholding for about a year, from May 2014, before off-loading it to Olga Glukhova of St Petersburg. The Russian connection to Unihold and related companies has also been the subject of scrutiny by other bloggers, but not authorities in New Zealand it would seem.

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One Response to Francois Gillain, Finance Suisse, and Panama

  1. Do you want to add to the post, given the subject matter it’s problematic to break anonymity.

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