Inside the Taylor’s Shell: the Distaff side

Of all the dodgy operations that have appeared to use New Zealand companies it is the Taylors empire that has received the most exposure over the years. The Taylors also appear to have a dynasty going, and possibly three generations of nominee directors, in the formation of shell companies for offshore clients. The media exposure goes back at least a decade. Gerard Ryle, then deputy editor of the Canberra Times, wrote a long article on the Taylors in 2011 entitled “Inside the shell: drugs, arms and tax scams”. Ryle went on to head the ICIJ, which is responsible for the Offshore Leaks database, and the Panama Papers. But then he reported mainly on Geoffrey Taylor, the head of the family, and wife Priscila Lustre Taylor.

In between 2011 and now Geoffrey Taylor retired, but Priscila was also active in the role of nominee director, both in New Zealand and in Britain. She also appears twice in the Offshore Leaks database, though not as many times as her children. Most of the media attention has been on her sons Ian and Michael, who appear to run the family franchise in shell companies, sometimes based in Southport, Australia; but also with bases in Vanuatu, London, and Nelson, New Zealand. The Taylors have been the target for the blogger, Richard Smith, of Naked Capitalism. His most recent blog on New Zealand (December 2016) is called “GT Group’s Protean Ian Taylor in the UK”, and he goes on to connect all the different Ian Taylors that crop up in company records around the world, but especially at 43 Bedford St in London. Richard Smith has also speculated on the role of some of his female associates, which include personal relationships and as employees. He assumes that Rachel Amy Erickson is a (former) spouse, and that Angelique Lilley is an employee. Smith’s piece links to Ian Taylor’s personal website, Taylor Business Consulting. But Taylor also has a company called Global SC Ltd (sometimes listed as being based in Vanuatu and other times in the Seychelles), and a website, http://www.readymadeshelfcompany.com, which offers the services of nominee directors/shareholders and bank accounts across the world, with previously used and unused companies.

Rather than speculate on the role of the women in the Taylor empire it would be better to concentrate on the distaff side, and she what this tells us about their current operations. To do this we need to look at one New Zealand company, Land Nominees Ltd, which was removed from the companies register only last month (February 2017). It was set up in 2007 as Sunseeker Nominees Ltd, and the shareholding was split between 12 of the Taylor family, except Geoffrey, and nor did it include Rachel Erickson or Angelique Lilley. But it does include Ian and Michael, and two shareholders with a surname of Lilley living in Nelson (in the South Island of New Zealand), which I’m assuming are Priscila’s grandchildren. If my grandchild theory is correct, this probably makes Angelique Lilley a daughter, with the other grandchildren living in Amberley (a country town also in the South Island); two sets of two grandchildren living at Queensland addresses; and two grandchildren in Vanuatu. Although the two in Vanuatu may be from Priscila’s own extended family. I’ve noticed there is also a Priscila Lamoste Lustre who also appears twice in the Panama Papers, and is listed there as living in Vanuatu. But the same name comes up twice in the NZ companies register, including one active directorship for a company called Hopper NZ Ltd set up in 2016. Ms Lustre gives her address as being in Southport, Queensland; and we see that the documentation was prepared by Peter Burslem, another known Taylor family associate.

So apart from Ms Lustre, we know that Priscila Lustre Taylor is no longer a director in New Zealand; and neither is Angelique Elizabeth Lilley, who does not appear to reside in Nelson anymore. Rachel Amy Erickson appeared only once in the New Zealand register, but has a greater presence in the British company register, called Beta. Before looking more closely at that, I will refer to the Offshore Leaks database again. Priscila Lamoste Lustre was the director for two BVI companies that are both listed as ‘defaulted’ and directly linked to Mossack Fonseca as intermediary. Priscila Lustre Taylor appears as a shareholder in one Samoan company for Mossack Fonseca; and as the director and shareholder for Develcan Ventures Ltd, a company linked to Russia, along with Elisana Marie-Antoinette Labonte of the Seychelles. Labonte has 18 other entries in the database. Meanwhile, Angelique Elizabeth Lilley has 4 entries based on her Nelson addresses. In one BVI company, Ardrey Enterprises, she has been a shareholder along with other known Taylor associates, Abigail Kalopong and Zsolt Adam Vajgel. Vajgel was also a preceding shareholder in Lichmere Investments Corp, before both he and Lilley were superceded by two companies based in Cyprus. Lilley was also the shareholder for Pod Investment Global Ltd, before being replaced by Rachel Amy Erickson in 2014. Erickson was a shareholder in 5 other BVI registered companies, but Chemspace Ltd is the only other one listed as active.

All of those companies in which Lilley or Erickson were nominee shareholders were created by intermediaries based in the Ukraine, either K.A.C. Ltd or Anglo Business Advisers Ltd, which has 110 entries in the Offshore Leaks database. There are at least two of their other companies linked to the Taylor family, with Ian Taylor as the shareholder. One is registered in the Seychelles, Keeton International S.A.; the other is a BVI company known as Kenton Investments Capital Group Corp. Taylor appears as a shareholder in 4 other companies created by Mossack Fonseca, one of which, Ravot Ltd, also had Rachel Erickson as a shareholder. Erickson and Taylor appear in the British company register many times, particularly for Limited Liability Partnerships. For example, there is RH Chemical Industrial Company LLP, for which they are ‘designated members’, along with Keeton Holdings Ltd, a company listed at the same address as Erickson in Queensland. Keeton Holdings, along with Erickson and Taylor, were also designated members for S.T.A. Technics and Engineering LLP, now dissolved. Keeton Holdings was appointed to that role in 2015, whereas Erickson and Taylor replaced Andreas Ellinas and Emilios Hadjivangeli in 2008. Taylor and Erickson also replaced the Cypriots, Ellinas and Hadjivangeli, in Ajax Trade LLP, in April 2009; while Ian and Priscila Taylor did the same the previous year for Bav Enterprises LLP. A similar thing happened for Global Consulting LLP in 2009, except that Ian Taylor resigned in 2015, leaving Erickson and Keeton Holdings as designated members.

It seems the Taylors often took over these roles in LLPs from Cypriots, for example, Priscila Taylor and Erickson relieved Eleni Papapavlou and Argyris Argyrou in BCH Research LLP in 2008. Argyrou appears 5 times in the Offshore Leaks database; Papapavlou has 24 entries; Ellinas 26 entries; and Hadjivangeli’s name appears 18 times. All of these LLPs are based in Stockport, England, at Minshull House (67 Wellington Road North). Erickson seems to be the most involved in this operation, although Angelique Lilley is still the other designated member of Grownowys LLP, and Leah Toureleo of Vanuatu also features (she appears twice in the Panama Papers). Taylor, Toureleo, and Erickson are involved in hundreds of British companies, as well as the LLPs based in Stockport, but we don’t know who is behind them. All except for Global Consulting Trade LLP. On the Beta website there’s a category ‘Persons with significant control’. This was usually vacant when I clicked on it, but, for Global Consulting Trade LLP, I found that the person with significant control was named as Sergii Soloviov, of the Ukraine. Soloviov lives in Kyiv, Ukraine, and was born in October 1972. There seems to be another Sergii Soloviov in the Beta system, controlling SLPT Development Ltd, but this one is listed as living in Lugansk, and being born in April 1982. One wonders if they are actually the same person, but it is not clear why these two examples appear on the website. Neither Soloviov is in the Panama Papers, in any case.

And, as with all the pieces that try to explore the activities of the Taylors in shell company formation, there are more remaining questions than answers. One just has to wonder how they almost always get away with it.

 

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