Great Danes?:Equinor, Fid-Elite & Nordeq Trusts

This is the rather convoluted story of the disintegration of Equinor Trust Ltd, the vehicle for one Lachlan Williams, and examines the new owners of some of its companies. Williams also owned the Kiwi Deposit Building Society, but in 2013 he got into strife with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand over prudential supervision and compliance with anti-money laundering regulations. As reported by Gareth Vaughan at the time [20/5/2013, interest.co.nz], Williams had boasted about having over $8 Billion in the trusts that he was administering for non-residents, and on behalf of Equinor International A/S. It is not possible to access Equinor International’s website to see if it has an active presence in New Zealand. But, in any case, the New Zealand companies were split up and divested in 2013.

Due to the complexity of the break-up of Equinor, I will first try to give an idea of the essential pattern, and then look at some of the foreign players involved. Equinor Trust was originally called Rubicon Trust Ltd, and it was set up by Geoffrey Cone. The 50 000 shares were transferred to Rubicon International A/S in April 2007, before Rubicon sold out to another Danish firm, Equinor International, in August 2008. Williams became a director after Cone relinquished it, and added Daniel Karpantschof Reece as a director. Reece would go on to set up Nordeq Management Services in Denmark. In New Zealand, Nordeq Holdings Ltd was first registered in 2014; while Nordeq Trust Ltd (initially known as Virtus Management) is owned by Nordeq International A/S, and its directors are Reese, and Matthew Hitchman of Auckland. The Nordeq website states that New Zealand “offers an unparalleled trust system for the foreign investor.”

So basically what happened is that the companies owned by Equinor, including some older ones set up by Cone, were taken over by the Allanzia Holding Company in 2013. Then in 2014 the companies were transferred to the Suricata Holding Company, and were then progressively split up: some went to the Fid-Elite Estate Ltd, and some to Nordeq Holdings. Now, all these holding companies are owned by corresponding trust services companies in New Zealand, and then a parent company overseas. So Allanzia Holdings was ultimately owned by the Allanzia Group, based in Hong Kong; Allanzia’s New Zealand operation was sold to Suricata Holdings, which is based in Malta; and Fid-Elite Estate was purchased by Fid-Elite Wealth Services SA, based in Switzerland, from DM Corporate Services in Auckland. DM stands for Denton Morrell, an Auckland trust firm run by Matthew Butterfield, who appears as a director for the companies owned by Fid-Elite Estate.

Now for some of the nuances in the company set ups. An interesting example is Fortman Investments Ltd: it was actually a Panamanian company that was transferred to the New Zealand register by Lachlan Williams in 2012, with the help of Matthew Ford, another player in the transfer saga. It was then transferred each subsequent year in the New Zealand register: from Equinor to Allanzia, to Suricata, to Fid-Elite Estate Holdings. There are a number of other companies that follow the same route, and often the transfers are on the same day; as are the companies that end up with Nordeq Holdings. The only variation on this route are Northland New Zealand Ltd and Hampton Downs Ltd, that end up being administered by Stephen Green in Auckland (with directors with Eastern European names, like Eduard Patkevych and Mariya Federenko, linked with Equity Trust International Ltd).

There are a couple of interesting connections with Swiss residents as well. Westport International Ltd was set up for Antonio Orsetti of Brusino Arsizio in Switzerland. We know this because the fax sent to the Companies Office in Wellington also contains an email from Neil Smith, from Equinor International, to Alp Consulting in Switzerland, explaining a problem with the fax machine. This may well be the same Neil Smith who now works for Daniel Reece at Nordeq in Denmark. There are also two companies – Ivory Real Estate Ltd and Tama Capital Ltd – that share a Swiss director, Ivano d’Andrea. Tama is still owned by Nordeq, but administered for d’Andrea by Eduard Patkevych and Green in Auckland; whereas Ivory Capital is owned by Nordeq Holdings, at Matthew Hitchman’s home address on the North Shore, but registered at the Denton Morrell office in Parnell. The Suricata Holding Company was owned by Nordeq, but has now been passed back to Suricata Trust Services, which is controlled by a company in Christchurch, along with a lot of the other Allanzia shelf companies. These are not to be confused with a company called Allanzia NZ Holdings, which has been owned by Howard Lamplough of Switzerland, and most recently by Jimbong Enterprises of Malaysia. Lamplough still owns a number of other New Zealand companies, including Glencaple Holdings Ltd, from an address in Andorra.

Meanwhile Lachlan Williams seems to have left New Zealand for Indonesia, though he didn’t quit owning all of his companies. Indeed, Williams, an Australian by birth, is adding to them again, and this time he appears to be installing another Mr Williams as a director.

 

 

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