Two more dodgy Panamanian law firms and their New Zealand companies

This post is a follow up to the previous one, but takes us into new territory. Well, mostly the same territory, Panama and New Zealand, with an interesting African link. But it does introduce a new local trust firm player, Martin Quinton Fine, of Map & Associates of Hamilton, in the North Island. Martin Fine appears about 270 times in the New Zealand company register, at a variety of different addresses around the North Island. He seems to have been linked with Panamanian nominee directors for a while, but more so in recent times. Besides a few we have seen that are linked to Morgan & Morgan, there are two more Panamanian law firms: Icaza Gonzalez-Ruiz & Aleman; and Aleman, Cordero, Galindo & Lee (known as Alcogal). Alcogal’s website also claims that it has an office in Wellington.

Oceania Management Ltd was set up in 2001 by Carolyn Gee (Melville), and the 1000 shares were assumed by Martin Fine in 2006. It has had a variety of Panamanian directors over that time, including Luis Davis, Itzel Cesar de Blanco, Lineth Ponce, and most recently Justo Reyna Villarreal. Some more recent companies that Fine has set up include Worldwide Trading Services Ltd with Clelia Chong as its first director, later replaced by Ruth Giannina de Sanchez of Panama and Agustin Hernadez, a resident of Weston, Florida. Ruth de Sanchez, Clelia Chong and Itzel de Blanco all appear in SEC documents, for their roles in Panamanian companies and the Capri foundation, which were involved in the transfer of shares in Optibase Holdings for an American, Tom S Wyler; Optibase was subsequently re-located to Israel. Ruth De Sanchez also appears on the website Iran Watch, as the secretary of Aspasis Marine Corporation, which is apparently a front company for the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.

One of Martin Fine’s first Panamanian collaborations was in Pan Pacific Trustees, for which Lilian de Muschett was the original director. Ms de Muschett appears many times on the web, especially in regard to her association with a Harmodio Herrera, and his company Agro Bioethanol Int LLC (known as Abe Int). A number of websites refer to Abe Int as a New York shell company that has been investigated with regard to a controversial investment in Senegal, which also involves Italian companies. At a key moment Abe Int was closely linked to a New Zealand front company Wallace (Oceania) Ltd, that was run by Carolyn Melville for Global Trustees in Auckland. Wallace (Oceania) had in fact been set up by Geoffrey Cone for Amicorp, with the original directors being Cone and Xander Arts of Curacao (N.A.), before being taken over by the Melvilles, and then finally being run by Colm Hanley of the Pearse Trust before it was removed. Anyway, going back to Lilian de Muschett, she is associated with the Panamanian law firm Icaza, Gonzalez-Ruiz & Aleman. Their website has a reference to New Zealand trusts, the contact being Estefania Aleman.

The investigation of Abe Int, with regard to “who is behind Senhuile-Senetanol” in Senegal, also refers to another Panamanian nominee director: John Benjamin Foster Acosta. Foster Acosta appears a number of times on the New Zealand company register, and so seems to link up with nearly all of the dodgy New Zealand trust firms. In Auckland, Foster Acosta has been associated with Stephen Green of Equity Trust International, and for listed companies like Third Capital Ltd and International Capital Investment Ltd, both of which had name changes when Foster Acosta became a director or shareholder. Another interesting example is a company called MTL RE Ltd, where Foster Acosta was shareholder for about a year until September 2012, when it was sold to Intrust’s staff in Cyprus, before the shares were assumed by Michael Howard Shore and run by Bentleys in Auckland.

But John Foster Acosta’s main New Zealand link is in Wellington, with Gordon Ralph Stewart of Thorndon. Stewart’s collaboration with Foster Acosta also involved some more creative names: Sailing International Ltd, Tektite Fashion Ltd, and Blue Eyes Trading Ltd. All were owned by Stewart’s vehicle FI & PA Corporate Trustee NZ Ltd, after he took over the shareholding from Pennymarsh Ltd of Essex, England. Sadly all those companies have been removed, and the only company left with Foster Acosta as director is called Interglobal Holdings Ltd, although he is still associated with the Alcogal law firm in Panama. Alcogal stands for Aleman, Cordero, Galinda & Lee. Interestingly, a corporate entity with those four names owns Apex Trust (NZ) Ltd, a company set up by Gordon Stewart in 2008. Since the Alcogal law website states that it has a New Zealand office, at Gordon Stewart’s Thorndon address, it appears that the Panamanian links go well beyond the big firms like Mossack Fonseca and Morgan & Morgan.

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