Bachmann Trust Overdrive: Guernsey home, Swiss directors, and New Zealand companies

I’m going back to the Swiss links with New Zealand, but this one is rather complicated by name changes at the European end, and administrators being shuffled in Auckland. This involves the Bachmann Trust Company, originally located in Guernsey, with a Swiss branch operation, which becomes the Ardel Trust Company in recent years. Then it seems that the company is split in the Channel Islands, with the Equiom Group taking over part of the operation, and JTC Group buying the trust business in New Zealand. But there was an earlier split in New Zealand, with Ardel selling the Thalassa Trust company to Ronald Alfred Beau of Switzerland. All of the names are mentioned in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks database.

The Bachmann Trust Company (New Zealand) Ltd was set up in 2003 by the Bell Gully law firm, with Gerald Clifford Williams of Guernsey and Martin John Pugh of Switzerland as directors. Williams appears to be the one constant in the various iterations of Bachmann, which seems to still have a branch under the original name in Cyprus (set up in 2010), but the version in England is known as Castlewood Trust & Company Ltd, which was incorporated in 2001. Martin John Pugh has been a director in three other companies in New Zealand, and seems to have been a director of some Panamanian companies since the late 1970s. The New Zealand companies include: London Fiduciary Trust Company Ltd, Fidenter Trustees Ltd, and Veritatis Trustees Ltd. London Fiduciary Trust was set up by the Asiaciti trust company, under the guise of the Bricol Financial Group, and the shares remain under the control of the Asiaciti principal Graeme Briggs, who is based in Singapore. Pugh was only briefly a director of that company, but he had a longer tenure in the other two trustee companies, from January 2008 to May 2014. Martin Pugh is also interesting for his four entries in the ICIJ database, which cover all three firms that have had document leaks: Mossack Fonseca, the Commonwealth Trust, and Portcullis Trustnet.

Now for a closer look at Fidenter and Veritatis Trustees. Veritatis was set up by Geoffrey Cone for Amicorp Trustees in May 2003, and he was a director until the local branch of Amicorp was set up in 2007. The shareholding went from a vehicle for Amicorp to the BTC Nominees SA company, registered in Panama, in early 2008. From 2011 through 2014 Veritatis Trustees Ltd filed ‘non-activity’ declarations each year. In 2014 the local administration of the company moved from Asiaciti in central Auckland across to the North Shore law firm of Kevin Stuart Jones, who also became the local director in 2015. The Swiss contingent changed from Pugh, to Christopher George Rylatt, to Jonathan Paul Kirby, and most recently Sebastien Hayoz. Fidenter Trustees Ltd follows the same pattern more or less exactly. BTC Nominees – presumably standing for Bachmann Trust Company – appears over 30 times in the ICIJ database, usually in combination with JTC Suisse SA, which as an intermediary is linked to 118 entities. The Bachmann Trust Company appears once, linked to Oriel Asset Management Company Ltd (BVI),as does Bachmann Truehand AG, and Bachmann Trust Co. SA in Switzerland. But the Guernsey version appears a number of times, alternating between ‘Bachmann Alpha’ and ‘Bachmann Beta’. One of the ‘Bachmann Alphas’ links to Frobeli Trading Ltd, a BVI company that has a beneficiary in Pavel Maslovskiy. Maslovskiy was the principal in the Russian gold mining company Petropavlosk, as well as being the co-founder of Peter Hambro Mining. Meanwhile, BTC Nominees is also involved with Silor Associates SA, a Panamanian company set up by the Morgan & Morgan law firm, which has also featured Martin Pugh and Jonathan Kirby as directors.

Now back to the other companies in New Zealand that began with the Bachmann Trust Company (Suisse) shareholding. The Thalassa Trust Services Ltd was set up by Asiaciti in 2009, with Jason Bougourd of France as a director. The shareholding was transferred from Bachmann to the Ardel Trust Company (Switzerland) in 2011, with Martin Pugh continuing as a director. The name Thalassa appears in the ICIJ database, but it’s not clear if it is linked to New Zealand, though the Ardel Trust Company (Switzerland) does appear twice in the Panama Papers. So does Ronald Alfred Beau, whose Beau Holding Company SA took over Thalassa Trust Services in 2012, and the shareholding is now held by Beau HLB (Holding) SA. There is also a Beau HLB (Holding) SCA, which owns Beau HLB (Auckland) Ltd, which was set up in 2012 as Beau Trust Services Ltd. Ronald Beau is now director of both of his New Zealand companies, while his Beau HLB Geneve SA appears as an ‘intermediary’ in the Panama Papers, and linked to 11 companies set up in Panama or the British Virgin Islands. Golden Specht Ltd and Crabapple Group Holdings Ltd are still active BVI companies. Beau also set up companies through Portcullis Trustnet in Singapore, which include Global Energy Supplies Group Pte Ltd, and Digital Strategy Consulting Pte Ltd. Portcullis, with the help of Julius Baer Ltd, also set up Gloen Pte Ltd in Singapore, which links Beau with Stephan Woestelandt, and Laurent Biousse (now a Swiss academic) in a logistics company called the Aeronautics Fund. Ronald Beau also appears to be the Chief Financial Officer in Beaumont Partners, a Geneva based firm of global financiers. What a busy man he must be.

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