The Taylors Legacy: some Cypriots with a link to Belize, the Marshall Islands & Cactus Kate

The legacy of the Taylors shell company games is something of a gift that keeps giving. In this post I will look at a few more of Taylors’ New Zealand companies, the role of Cypriot directors and beyond. We will also see a new player in the domestic shelf company game, this time from Devonport, Auckland, and their link to the blogger known as Cactus Kate.

I was looking back at some press print-outs from just before the Panama Papers came out last year, and found an article in the (March 5) New Zealand Herald by Hamish Fletcher. After referring to the Maltese politicians with New Zealand trusts, he went on to mention the ‘shell games’ played by the Taylors, and the liquidation of Vicam Ltd, the Taylor company with Nesita Manceau as director. He then referred to another Manceau company, Dolven Ltd, that had not been removed, but had been liquidated on the order of the High Court. In fact, it had been removed in July 2011, but had been reinstated in May 2015, and then liquidated in February 2016, with KPMG appointed as the liquidator. KPMG had been appointed because of a British creditor, Sontrin Products LLP, which, according to Fletcher, was owned by two firms registered in Belize, an obvious tax haven.

In March 2016, KPMG made its first report to the Companies Office about the Dolven liquidation. This, and two later 6-monthly reports, referred to Dolven Ltd as operating as a shell company, until it acquired trademark rights from several European companies in 2010. This seemed to involve a Serbian company, and then negotiations with Dolven’s bank in Latvia, on behalf of Sontrin LLP. Now, it so happens that Sontrin Products LLP was based at the Cornwall Buildings, Birmingham. I say ‘was’ because it was struck off the company register as of yesterday, 2 May 2017, according to the BETA website. A look at its filing history indicates that this was not the first time, as in 2010 it was also ‘administratively dissolved’, but a ‘statement of compliance’ was provided on behalf of Corporate Solutions Ltd (of Belize). This was signed by Mrs Lana Zamba; and other documentation indicates the role of Panagiotis Georgiou. Both Zamba and Georgiou appear many times as the directors of British companies, though most are now dissolved, and have also been directors of Ferron Technology Ltd, one of the only active companies. Zamba appears in the Panama Papers once, as shareholder of Omalley Holdings Ltd, a BVI company linked to the Czech republic.

Lana Zamba turns out to be one of the more notorious nominee directors in Europe, even if she is probably not really aware of it. The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) had a number of investigations which turned up Mrs Zamba as a player, whom they describe as a yoga instructor from Cyprus. One example is how she was the nominal owner of one of the companies (Altkom Ltd) that renovated the Ukrainian Olympic stadium, that had served as the base for the Euro 2012 football tournament. The OCCRP also highlighted what they called the ‘Russian Laundering Machine’ in 2011, and linked it to the so-called Magnitsky case. Two companies involved in this were based in Britain, including Nomirex Trading Ltd, and one in New Zealand, Bristoll Export Ltd, a Taylor company. In early 2013, the Daily Telegraph referred to Zamba as a ‘yoga guru’, who was born in Ukraine, but based in Cyprus, and pointed to her role in Eurobalt Ltd. Eurobalt had a controlling interest in Altkom. And Eurobalt Ltd is still listed as active, but Zamba was succeeded by another Cypriot, Andrea Kakouris, in 2011. The person with significant control of Eurobalt is listed as a Dutchman, resident of the Netherlands Antilles, Gregory Edward Elias.

Lana Zamba’s role also extends to many New Zealand companies. In late 2012 Michael Field of Fairfax reported on her apparent role as the registered owner of a web address forextime.com, operating out of Auckland. The linked company, Forextime NZ Ltd, was set up in 2011, and later removed in January 2016. The shareholder and director was a Yiangos Yiangou of Cyprus, represented by Campbell Law in Auckland. Yiangos Yiangou appears once in the Panama Papers, with a BVI company called Palavar Commercial Inc, a company set up by Unitrust Corporate Services of London (see my previous post). Meanwhile, Lana Zamba, as well as Panagiotis Georgiou, and Andreas Kakouris have all been directors of New Zealand companies. Kakouris has succeeded Zamba as director in three companies set up an accountancy firm, Gannaway Mercer Ltd, of Devenport, Auckland. Two of these companies are owned by the Syten Group, a company based in the Marshall Islands. A company called Potterson Ltd, with Panagiotis Georgiou as a director, was also owned by company based in the Marshall Island, A & P Henderson Ltd. But most of the companies run by Gannaway Mercer Ltd, and directed by Mrs Zamba, were set up by the Anchor Trustees of Auckland, and had another Cypriot, Athina Georgiou, as the original director. And most of these companies had the shareholding assumed by a New Zealand company, GCSL (New Zealand) Ltd. There are a couple of exceptions to this, one being Ariona Sales Ltd, which was owned by Trade Invest System Ltd, a company based at Barrack Rd, Belize (an address that Zamba also used). And the other one was called Intratex Ltd, a company set up by Michael Taylor in Auckland, with Stella Port-Louis, of the Seychelles, as the original director, before Lana Zamba took over with the help of Gannaway Mercer Ltd, in August 2009. All of Zamba’s 75 companies were removed by 2012.

But GCSL (New Zealand) Ltd had another 25 companies set up by Gannaway Mercer, this time with Najwa Smaili, another Cypriot, as a director. GCSL itself was created by the Anchor Management Services Ltd in 2008, with three Hong Kong residents as the original directors. In February 2011 these directors were replaced by Catherine Michelle Odgers, a resident of Hong Kong. She is better known as Cathy Odgers, or the blogger Cactus Kate, a rather well-connected right wing lawyer. In 2014 her political connections came to light in what is now known as the ‘Dirty Politics’ saga in New Zealand.

In the meantime all of Najwa Smaili companies have been removed from the New Zealand companies register. But she remains active in at least four British companies. She is a director of Layford Ltd, also based at the Cornwall Buildings in Birmingham. The person with significant control in the company is Oleg Strazding, a Russian who appears once in the Panama Papers with a BVI company called Tempetrol Ltd. In Broghammer Ltd the person with significant control is also Russian, Aleksandr Nikulnikov. The interesting thing here is that Smaili succeeded Rachel Amy Erickson as director, one of the Taylor clan. And Smaili is also the nominee director in two companies controlled by Ukrainians, Anatoly Butko and Yurii Pilkevich, for Vember Capital Ltd and High-Tech Scientific Investments Ltd, respectively. There are no doubt many more Russian and Ukrainian links to Cypriots in the British company register, as well as New Zealand’s.

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