This time we will look specifically at the Venezuelan chocolate business run by Jorge Redmond Schlageter, and its legal structure in the USA. Chocolate El Rey SA apparently dates back to the 1920s in Venezuela, but its presence in the US market took off in the mid 1990s, and is for all intents and purposes a successful business. Once Jorge Redmond took over in Caracas he met up with an old school friend, Randall M Turner, who is based in Fredericksburg, Texas. Rand Turner is the President of Chocolates El Rey Inc., which was set up as a Delaware company in 1993, with the Texas branch dating from 1995. Turner also set up a company called Aroa Fine Chocolates LLC, which is another Delaware company that was registered in Massachusetts between 2007 and 2013. This is, of course, the period in which Jorge Redmond was involved in his contretemps with compatriot Luis Aguilar.
Randall M Turner was the son of a Texas oil man who was transferred to Venezuela, and hence he was born in Maracaibo. According to a 1996 story in the Texas Monthly, Turner went back to the States to attend a prep school in Tennessee, and it was there that he met Jorge Redmond. Redmond’s father was a chemical engineer from Louisiana, and it was his mother’s side of the family that had an interest in the Venezuelan chocolate company. The article “Holy Cacao” raves about the quality of the El Rey chocolate, and Redmond hosting 30 chefs and journalists at his new facility in Venezuela. Chocolates El Rey also expanded into Japan, and their subsidiary there became known as Cacao Fino Ltd. Of course, there is no reference to the El Rey structure of ownership of trusts and companies in New Zealand.
Chocolates El Rey (New Zealand) Ltd was set up by the Cone Marshall firm in 2006, and had five directors, including Turner, Redmond, and Luis Aguilar. It was actually formally removed in 2008, presumably because of the dispute between Aguilar and Geoffrey Cone, as described in Part 1. But the key New Zealand company turns out to be Amix Harbour Chocolates Prima Ltd, that was set up by Aguilar in 2008, and had Turner and Redmond as directors until January 2012, when it appears that Aguilar forced the other two out. There are two other New Zealand companies that are relevant to the Chocolate El Rey structure, Antitox Ltd and Delmatter National and Provincial Ltd (the latter also had Turner and Redmond as directors). As explained in Aguilar’s affidavit, Amix Harbour Chocolates Prima Ltd was one of three owners of Chocolates El Rey Inc., the Delaware corporation; the other two are Randall Turner, and Jorge Redmond holding about 80% of El Rey through a limited partnership called Antitox CV. The Amix company acts as a trustee for a foreign trust in New Zealand, which was called the USA Matrix Trust; it also acted as trustee of the Premium Brands Trust, another foreign trust, which owned the El Rey trademarks. Amix was also the trustee for the foreign trust that owned shares in the Japanese subsidiary, the Japan Matrix Trust. It seems that Aguilar tried to oust Turner and Redmond from the Amix part of the structure after he claims to have discovered a fraud in 2011, and the specific claim involved the sum of US$500 000, though he claimed there were other irregularities.
Aguilar’s allegations were made in a complaint to the Consumer Protection Division of the State of Texas, and published on-line by Aguilar after reiterating the complaint in February 2013. This affidavit is based on a more chronological sequence of events, and includes emails from Turner, Redmond, and their accountant. The latter suggests getting that a trust company be approached to establish ‘tax-free corporations’, and it appears that the Citco (out of Curcao) firm was involved. But the basic claim by Aguilar was that funds from Chocolate El Rey were funneled into Turner’s Aroa company, in the form of unauthorised credit lines, and something similar happened in Redmond’s Antitox CV company structure. The latter is interesting because it seems to include New Zealand companies that Aguilar had set up: Antitox (NZ) Ltd, Delmatter National and Provincial Ltd, and Estimulo Foundation Ltd. Aguilar hints that Redmond’s attempt to change his structure “created a problem with AsiaCiti Trust New Zealand Ltd”, and was being pursued by the authorities, without any outcome. But the basic structure was for each of the New Zealand companies to act as the trustee for a NZ foreign trust, with Delmatter National as the trustee for the Morusso Trust, and Antitox (NZ) being the trustee for Maurois Trust. And, in turn, the trusts were part of a Dutch limited partnership: so the Maurois Trust was the effective owner of a company, Redko CV, through which Jorge Redmond owned some properties in New York; and the Maurois Trust was the ‘general partner’ for Antitox CV, which was the vehicle for controlling Chocolate El Rey. The complication was that these New Zealand companies were apparently under Aguilar’s control, until he gave up in 2015.
So, after all that legal action, Jorge Redmond still appears to be in the chocolate business, although Aguilar had suggested that he had tried to sell out to Nestle in 2011, until he realised that the due diligence might expose his financial shenanigans. And Luis Aguilar himself, has gone after bigger fish, writing open affidavits about the legal position of Nicholas Maduro’s nephews who seem to be now facing up to drugs charges in the USA.