Bogus Panamanian finance companies have infiltrated New Zealand. Not only are they listed with the Companies Office they have been allowed to become registered 'Financial Service providers' despite the fact they are nothing more than front companies with no staff. Why hasn't the Ministry of Economic Development done anything about it?

I was checking through a few websites yesterday and, as I sometimes do, I took a look at the Tax Justice blog. The Tax Justice Network are a international coalition of researchers and activists who focus on exposing the world's rich elite and their various schemes to avoid paying tax by trying to hide their millions in tax havens, shelf companies and so on.

A new post on the blog mentions a finance company called Trillion Private Wealth Management Ltd, which supposedly operates out of 9/22 Curran Street, Herne Bay, Auckland.

A look on Google Maps will reveal that 9/22 Curran street is not an office building but a townhouse in one of the more prosperous areas of Auckland.

Trillion has its own website. The site declares:

The idea of setting up and managing an offshore account used to be something only the super-rich dreamed about. These days, however, that scenario is gradually changing, and more and more people are reaping the benefits of protecting and building their assets overseas. Now, even the moderately wealthy can benefit from moving portions of income and savings to secure offshore investments.

The website goes on to say:

Trillion Private Wealth is your "one stop shop" for, multi-currency corporate accounts. We can assist you to incorporate an International Business Corporation in the Marshall Islands so that your new company can open the international account.

Tax Justice suggests that a phrase like 'protecting and building..assets overseas' is often code for hiding money from the tax and legal authorities.

Tax Justice then refers us to the excellent Naked Capitalism blog.

Naked Capitalism has been doing some rummaging around in the New Zealand Companies Register and discovered New Zealand International Savings & Loan Limited.

It was registered on 1 October 2010 and its company address is also 9/22 Curran Street, Herne Bay, Auckland.

The company was formerly NZ General Administration Ltd. Its director at the time was one Warwick Wood.

Another director jumped on board in October 2010. This was Rodrigo Edgardo Alvarado. He lives in Panama City, Panama.

Also in October another director joined NZ International Savings & Loans Ltd. This was Rod Alvar - who replaced Warwick Todd.

Rod Alvar and Roderigo Elgardo Alvarado, says Naked Capitalism, are more than likely the same person.

Roderigo Elgardo Alvarado is also the sole director of the Worldwide Forstock Financial Group Ltd, which also lists its company address as 9/22 Curran Street, Herne Bay, Auckland.

Writes Naked Capitalism:

So we have a profoundly dodgy company, New Zealand International Savings& Loan Limited and a profoundly dodgy made-up individual, Rod Alvar, and what look like offences under the 1993 Companies Act. Surely a company couldn’t possibly make it onto the register of Financial Service Providers, could it?

But it has.

Financial Service Providers Register (FSPR) is supposed to be part of ' the government’s financial sector regime that aims to provide greater accountability and transparency'.

New Zealand International Savings and Loans Ltd has its own website and it declares itself to be a 'registered Financial Service Provider in New Zealand'. But it appears, like all the other companies listed for 9/22 Curran Street, to be little more than a front company with no staff.

It claims to be registered to something called the 'Ministry of Economy and Finance of New Zealand', which doesn't actually exist. Financial Service Providers are regulated by the NZ Ministry of Economic Development through the Companies Office.

In the case of the Panamaian front companies operating out of 9/22 Curran Street, it looks like the Ministry of Economic Development has been asleep at the wheel. They have allowed these dubious companies to register and remain on the Companies Register and permitted them to inflate their credibility by becoming registered Financial Service providers.

And they have been allowed to break the law in the process!

The Ministry of Economic Development didn't even spot that these (illegal) 'New Zealand' companies have one director who lives in Panama!

Panama is home to one of the largest concentration of banks in the Americas, making the country a global centre for money laundering. The fact that Panamanian front companies have infiltrated New Zealand, and without much effort, doesn't seem to have raised any alarm bells in government circles.


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