Complex offshore corporate network leads to Dublin suburb

Dublin-based businessman Philip Burwell has formed a complex web of offshore businesses, a number of which are under investigation by international authorities

 


A terraced house in Dublin’s upmarket Ranelagh has em erged as the centre of a complex global corporate structure run by four of the wor ld’s most prolific offshore agents.

From the house on Chelmsford Road three people have created a worldwide network of companies with a vast range of offshore nominee directors and companies acting as directors and shareholders. These are Irishman Philip Burwell and Latvians Stan Gorin and Erik Vanagels.

Forming companies of this nature is not illegal. But the complex web of businesses with nominee directors makes it difficult to trace and identify the beneficial owner of the company.

Furthermore, a number of these companies have been implicated in investigations by the Latvian and Ukrainian authorities.

One company which has caught the attention of foreign authorities is Ukrainian air cargo transport operator, East-West Alliance, of which Mr Burwell is a director.

In April 2001, the Ukrainian tax authorities seized six AN-28 and eight L-410 aircraft belonging to the Irish registered East/West Alliance, which is based out of the Ranelagh house.

The business has assets of more than $41 million, but due to the legal proceedings ongoing with the Ukrainian tax authorities and the fact the planes have been confiscated, it has been unable to operate, resulting in annual losses.

The directors of the company say the planes were seized by the Ukrainian authorities in connection with taxes owed in the Ukraine by another company which was leasing the aircraft from East/West Alliance.

Milltown Corporate Services which was incorporated in Ireland and listed Stan Gorin and Erik Vanagels as the directors is also behind a number of companies being investigated. Milltown Corporate Services was also based out of the Chelmsford Road address it was dissolved in May 2005. A company of the same name was subsequently registered in Belize.

The company helped to create Loginex Projects LLP for Kazakh minister and businessman Mukhtar Ablyazov, former, who is accused of embezzling billions of dollars out of BTA Bank between 2005 and 2009. In March, British High Court judge Nigel Teare said Mr Ablyazov had organised a complex fraud to embezzle billions of dollars from Kazakh bank BTA, adding the oligarch must have orchestrated or authorised false loans and “deceived” BTA’s board by failing to disclose his interest in borrowers.

Loginex Projects LLP, was among a number of companies that were cited in court as being used to move $1 billion illegally from the bank.

BTA Bank, which has since been declared insolvent and nationalised, is now attempting to liquidate Mr Ablyazov’s assets but declared its efforts are being hampered by the complex corporate structure at a court hearing in London earlier this week.

Milltown Corporate Services was also one of the companies which set up UK company Highway Investment Processing.

Highway Investment Processing sold an oil rig to Ukrainian state owned company, Naftogaz for $400 million, having purchased it for $248.5 million from Norway’s offshore driller Seadrill.

Mr Burwell has continued to be authorised by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to carry out trust or company services as recently as last July.

A representative for the Department of Justice and Equality said that all trust and company service providers authorised by the department are subject to “rigorous checks” by its Anti Money Laundering Compliance Unit.

* This article was amended on May 24th, 2013, for legal reasons