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#512858 - 04/05/16 06:03 AM The Panama Papers And Belize
Marty Offline
If you've been following the international news this weekend, you'll know all about the release of the Panama Papers. It's 11.5 million financial and legal records from a Panamanian law firm known as Mossack Fonseca and Company. The investigative journalists who reviewed these documents say that it exposes a global network of tax-evasion, which, quote, "enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies."

They say that the leak from Mossack-Fonseca shows how 140 politicians, public officials, and prominent business persons from 200 countries and territories around the world, have attempted to hide a total of about $2 billion in offshore banks and shadow companies. The entire financial network, according to the Panama Papers, hinged on Mossack Fonseca and Company, which was the law firm allegedly hired to hide the monies of these 140 prominent individuals, including current and former world leaders, and politically or financially well-connected persons.

So, what's the link to Belize? The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists list Lord Michael Ashcroft as the connection to Belize. They say his Belize Corporate Services, a subsidiary of Ashcroft's company BCB Holdings, began using Mossack Fonseca to provide shell corporations for its clients in 2006 when Ashcroft was in the U.K. House of Lords. BCS also owns Belize Bank International and Belize Bank Limited.

This document, from Belize Bank International, an Ashcroft Allied Company, made up part of the Panama Papers. It's a due diligence form from Belize Bank International in which Jurgen Mossack, one of the founders of Mossack Fonseca, applied to do business with Belize Bank International.

According to an email sent in November 2013, Belize Bank International established a new company whose owners were the Panama firm's founders, Jurgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca and partner Christopher Zollinger. The new firm was called M.F. & Co. (Belize) Limited and cooperated with BCS in creating companies and acting as registered agents in Belize." End Quote.

A check of Belize's International Financial Services Commission website say that M.F & Co. Belize Limited is located #15 "A" Street, Belize City, which is also the law office of Eamon Courtenay.

Today, when we contacted Courtenay for comment, he told us, quote, "Like many other Belizean entities, Prudential Trust Corporation Ltd, is licensed by the IFSC and provides registered office service to MF & Co. (Belize) Limited. For any further information, please contact the IFSC or Mossack Fonseca in Panama directly." End Quote.

Aschroft has been contacted by the ICIJ, who released the Panama Papers,, and Alan Kilkenny, writing on behalf of Ashcroft called it "entirely false" that "Lord Ashcroft either personally, or through a corporate entity in some way connected with him had "'partnered' and 'done business'" with Mossack Fonseca. Kilkenny is quoted as saying, "These allegations are completely untrue, and the events as described never happened. The records upon which you claim to rely for those allegations either do not exist or have been falsified."

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Ashcroft Companies Surface in The Panama Papers

On the heels of a meeting, headed by the outgoing President of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Sir Ronald Sanders, to discuss the financial challenges in the Caribbean due to the de-risking movements by the United States comes a report dubbed, The Panama Papers. The Panama Papers is the collection of over eleven million documents and about two point six terabytes of data leaked from a Panama-based law firm called Mossack Fonseca.

The leaked documents were reportedly analysed by over three hundred journalists which led to the exposure of clients involved in bribery, arms deals, tax evasion, financial fraud and drug trafficking. Belize’s name came up in the report on the Panama papers as it is being reported by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that Lord Michael Ashcroft’s offshore company, Belize Corporate Services represented Mossack Fonseca in Belize and used them to provide shell corporations for its clients as far back as 2006.

In 2013 it is reported that the Belize Bank International which is owned by Ashcroft’s Belize Corporate Services established a firm called MF and Company Limited with its owners being Ramon Fonseca, Jurgen Mossack and Christopher Zollinger. This new firm reportedly worked with Belize Corporate Services in creating companies and acting as registered agents in Belize. Interestingly enough, Belize Bank which is also owned by Belize Corporate Services was the first institution in Belize to be cut off by Bank of America and Commerzebank in April 2015, thus getting the ball rolling on the severing of the correspondent banking relations in Belize.

There is an abundance of information coming out of the Panama Papers and for now it is uncertain just how revealing it will get or how adverse it will prove to be for Belize’s financial sector. According to the report, the Panama Papers is proof that the de-risking movement should continue, adding that the Mossack-Fonseca firm had direct links to the allies and relatives of the Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad. Regarding the involvement of Ashcroft’s company, there was response coming out of the Ashcroft camp via Alan Kilkenny. Kilkenny says, quote, “these allegations are completely untrue, and the events as described never happened. The records upon which you [ICIJ] claim to rely for those allegations either do not exist or have been falsified.” End of quote.

In other parts of the world, the Panama Papers are having serious effects as in Iceland, there has been protestors outside the country’s Parliament calling for the Prime Minister to resign after the leaked documents showed personal financial arrangements made that some critics say will affect the country’s international reputation. The Panama Paper is said to be the biggest leak ever, larger than WikiLeaks’ and Snowden’s. One online news site says, quote, “Now called the Panama Papers, it is already recognized as maybe the biggest leak in the history of journalism. World leaders, athletes and celebrities around the globe have been implicated — and there’s more to come.” End of quote.

The Panama Papers came about in late 2014 when a source, referring to himself as John Doe contacted an investigative journalist for a German newspaper with the data which turned out to be just about every document generated by Panamanian law firm Mossack, Fonseca & Company. Mossack, Fonseca and Company is a firm known among the global elite and is the fourth-largest law firm for offshore tax havens.


#512882 - 04/06/16 05:30 AM Re: The Panama Papers And Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Mossack Fonseca & Ashcroft

In what is being described as an almost certain fatal blow to offshore banking, international media broke the story on Sunday, April 3, of a colossal leak of confidential documents from a highly secretive and private Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca. Eleven million documents held by that firm were passed to a German newspaper which then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a group of 107 media organisations spread across 76 countries. This group has reportedly been analysing the dossier for at least a year now.

Mossack Fonseca is the world’s fourth largest provider of offshore services and although it is based in Panama, it provides corporate incorporation and other offshore structured vehicles across many offshore jurisdictions.

The ICIJ reported that more than 300 individual journalists reviewed the leaked documents to expose a list of clients that included those involved in bribery, arms deals, tax evasion, financial fraud, and drug trafficking. Larger than Assange’s WikiLeaks, the treasure cove of almost three terabytes of electronic data siphoned from Mossack Fonseca’s internal database is considered the biggest leak ever. The source of the leak has not been identified.

The documents, which cover the day to day business affairs of Mossack Fonseca, go back at least 40 years and reportedly show how the firm has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and avoid taxes. This sensational leak, which without doubt is causing trepidation and anxiety in many quarters, has triggered authorities in the U.S. and major European countries to launch far-reaching investigations. The ICIJ has been requested to share all data it has collected and analysed in this matter.

The documents, now widely referred to as the Panama Papers, reportedly show the firm’s dealings with 12 current or former heads of state and at least 60 people linked to current or former world leaders. They include the Icelandic Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugson, who had an undeclared interest linked to his wife’s wealth; a trust linked to the deceased father of UK Prime Minister, David Cameron; and a suspected billion-dollar money laundering ring involving close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Also named are former leaders of Georgia, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, Sudan and Ukraine, and the BBC, which has worked on the documents, also names relatives of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Mossack Fonseca worked with more than 14,000 banks, law firms, company incorporators and other middlemen to set up companies, foundations and trusts for customers. Based on several reports in the UK media, these included banks, firms and corporate service providers here in Belize.

More specifically and according to media reports, former British Tory peer and key principal of the Belize Bank and its related companies, Lord Michael Ashcroft, is mentioned in the documents as having used Mossack Fonseca to take advantage of tax havens. A spokesman on behalf of Lord Ashcroft responded by saying the documentation was “entirely false,” and that “these allegations are completely untrue, and the events as described never happened. The records upon which you [ICIJ] claim to rely for those allegations either do not exist or have been falsified.”

Additionally, it is reported by the ICIJ that Belize Corporate Services (BCS), a subsidiary of Ashcroft’s company BCB Holdings, had been using Mossack Fonseca to provide shell corporations for its clients since 2006. Belize Corporate Services, located on Regent St. in Belize City, is the leading offshore incorporating agent in Belize and, as a part of the BCB Group, is said to work very closely with Belize Bank International.

According to the documents leaked, Mossack Fonseca was approached by Belize Corporate Services back in 2006 to establish a working relationship in the facilitation of clients for both firms. As a part of this working relationship and according to an email sent in November 2013, BCS established a new company whose owners were Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, the founding partners of the Panama firm, along with another partner Christopher Zollinger. The new firm was called M.F. & Co. (Belize) Limited and cooperated with BCS in facilitating the creation of companies and acting as registered agents in Belize.

These allegations come at a most inopportune time for Belize’s financial system which has been faced with an intractable correspondent banking crisis for more than a year now. Just under a year ago, in April, 2015, Belize Bank and Belize Bank International were the first banks in Belize to lose their correspondent banking service providers in the U.S. as a result of the de-risking strategy employed by large U.S. banks. Then, on September 16, 2015, just one day after Prime Minister Barrow announced he had reached a settlement deal with Lord Ashcroft for the public acquisition of BTL, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was granted court approval to serve ‘John Doe’ summonses on Belize Bank and Belize Bank International in order to investigate accounts held by those banks. In its declaration processed by the U.S. Federal Court in Miami, Florida, the IRS stated that “Belize Corporate Services (BCS) is incorporated and based in Belize and offers corporate services including the purchase of ‘shelf’ Belizean international business companies.”

To add to the challenges which the seemingly embattled Lord Ashcroft banking group has been experiencing over the last 12 months, and as recently reported by Amandala, in late 2015 the Belize Supreme Court handed down a US$3.5 million judgement against Belize Bank International in a case brought by Evergreen e-Pay Processing, Ltd., a company with an apparent domicile of Charlestown, Nevis, in the Eastern Caribbean. Evergreen was contracted by the defendant to process international credit card payments for clients.

While the full extent and implications for Belize of the Panama Papers leak will become clearer in the ensuing weeks, based on the early allegations and revelations, this will likely result in further pressure on our local financial system. Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Governor of the Central Bank Glen Ysaguirre have consistently told the local press that the de-risking crisis was ‘not an issue with the jurisdiction of Belize’, and that several banks across the Caribbean, are suffering the same fate. The ICIJ reports indicate that there may be other banks and offshore intermediaries in Belize that are listed in the Mossack Fonseca files. Amandala will keep following this story.


#512891 - 04/06/16 06:53 AM Re: The Panama Papers And Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
"The US essentially shut down the country of Belize's banking system back in November or December. There was Bank of Belize, and the government said they were hiding clients who didn't pay taxes, so they shut them down. The Bank of Belize was the clearinghouse for every offshore bank in the country. So just about every offshore bank was shut down for three or four months, and they're just starting to get back up and running. So in theory the US can do the same thing––they can just shut down their banking and freeze the funds they have in the US and force them to comply with any rule or regulation that they want."

We Asked an Offshore Banking Industry Insider How the Feds Will Respond to the Panama Papers

#513012 - 04/12/16 06:02 AM Re: The Panama Papers And Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Panama Papers Proponents Back Off Ashcroft

A week ago, we told you about the Panama Papers. It's a leak of 1.5 million financial and legal records from a Panamanian law firm known as Mossack Fonseca and Company. IT shows how approximately 140 financially and politically well connected persons hid their wealth in offshore tax havens.

It's the biggest news right now on the international scene because the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists say that these documents reveal a global network of tax-evasion, which, quote, "enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies."

Belize was named as one of the 50+ countries connected to the scandal, and the I-C-I-J SAID, and purported to show that billionaire businessman Michael Ashcroft was implicated. Well, it appears that they've had to walk way back from allegation since the leak went live about 10 days ago.

We received a press release today from Caribbean Investments Holdings Limited, an Ashcroft Allied company, which strongly asserts the I-C-I-J got it all wrong. It appears that they have because when the leak was published, they had this posting on Ashcroft. When we checked back on the Panama Papers today, the Ashcroft link and the Belize link had been taken completely down; it was nowhere to be found.

The release from Caribbean Investments Holdings Limited says, quote,

  • CIHL's subsidiary, Belize Corporate Services Limited (BCS) has never used Mossack Fonseca to provide shell corporations for its clients.
  • CIHL's subsidiary, The Belize Bank Limited, did not establish any company for Jurgen Mossack, Ramon Fonseca and Christopher Zollinger. Specifically, it did not establish M.F. & Co. (Belize) Limited.
  • BCS has never cooperated with M.F. & Co. (Belize) Limited in creating companies and acting as registered agents.

  • The Belize Bank Limited, Belize Bank International Limited, Belize Corporate Services Limited and Lord Ashcroft deny that they have in some way partnered or have done business with the Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca." End Quote.

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