Blaydon Ltd, the Isle of Man company used by Denis O'Brien to make a payment linked to the apparent data breach at Independent News & Media (INM), featured in the Paradise Papers disclosures last November.
The Paradise Papers were based on a leak from offshore law firm Appleby, and documents in the files stated that Blaydon's bank accounts in the Republic had up to €2 million a month passing through them at times.
Offshore trusts associated with Mr O’Brien and his business affairs are based in the Isle of Man and Barclays Wealth Trustees. Applebys provides services to these trusts and associated companies.
According to the leaked files from the law firm, Barclays decided in 2015 to cease providing services to Blaydon, which had maintained bank accounts here since 2011.
Blaydon is an investment holding company and its one issued share is held by an Isle of Man nominee company, IOMCSL Nominees Ltd. The directors are Brendan Hayes and Mark Polychronakis, of IOMSCL.
Publicly-available documents do not show who the beneficial owner is, but the leaked files stated the single issued share in Blaydon was held in trust for Mr O’Brien.
The report disclosed that a 2015 document produced by Barclays Wealth Trustees said that Blaydon operated as a nominee for Mr O’Brien in relation to a number of bank accounts in Ireland that received and paid out “large sums (about €2 million per month at times)”.
The payments were received and authorised by Mr O’Brien or by his private office, with the ability of one person in the office to sign the mandate, according to the document which reviewed a large number of matters involving Barclay clients.
On basis that structures do not do this by way of business, this was not a regulated activity. We have exited Blaydon Limited, which provided nominee bank accounts for DOB
Acting as a nominee means acting in the name of someone so that the beneficial owner of the account is not disclosed. Banks providing services to customers have to establish who the ultimate beneficial owners of the funds they hold are. It is not being suggested that the banks would not have known who Blaydon was acting for.
Barclays Wealth Trustees “communicated they would no longer undertake this activity and the company [Blaydon] was moved to another service provider in January 2015”, according to the leaked Barclays document.
Appleby had “advised on the implications of acting as nominee for Denis O’Brien in relation to different assets”, the Barclays document said in a note headed “Denis O’Brien structures”.
“On basis that structures do not do this by way of business, this was not a regulated activity. We have exited Blaydon Limited, which provided nominee bank accounts for DOB,” the note said.
Appleby also provided legal advice in relation to Blaydon’s opening accounts with Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank, with Blaydon having opened an account with the latter in 2011.
It now appears that a massive amount of data from the INM server may have been given to third parties and then 'interrogated' for the presence of certain names
Work associated with an apparent data breach in INM in October 2014 was paid for by Blaydon. An invoice was received by INM from a company called Trusted Data Solutions, UK, in December 2015. The bill was queried within INM, whose management did not know of any services requested from Trusted Data. The bill was eventually paid by Blaydon.
In August 2017 the then INM chief executive, Robert Pitt, made a protected disclosure to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement about the suspected data breach at INM.
It now appears that a massive amount of data from the INM server may have been given to third parties and then “interrogated” for the presence of certain names. The process does not appear to relate to any business interest of the media group and has raised concerns about journalists’ sources.
Mr O’Brien did not comment about Blaydon when asked if he wished to at the time of the Paradise Papers disclosures and has yet to comment about matters at INM.