Monday, 8 April 2013

Pleasurama Update


Mayor of Ramsgate and TDC cabinet member David Green has just stated on the Friends of Ramsgate Seafront Facebook group that he doesn’t have any idea who is behind SFP the Pleasurama development.

I take this to mean as he is a TDC cabinet member that this means neither do the council officers or councillors. As this is a closed group and I think this information important to the future of Ramsgate I have copied here what he said and my reply.

David Green said Barry James David one simple question. Who has the beneficial interest ie owns SFP services Ltd?
As far as I know, Mr Keegan is the only contact I know of.
 

Michael Child said David there is the rub, the council, I think started out thinking that they were engaged in a Whitbread project financed by the development arm of a Swiss bank.

This is clearly set out in the initial prospectus and under that basis it made some sort of sense.

Then the situation changed and it transpired that SFP wasn’t, as stated the development arm of a Swiss bank, but a BVI company where all the beneficiaries where able to hide their identities.

As you know from 2003 I made a considerable fuss about this and eventually SFP UK was formed in 2006 I think and assurances were made to me that the council was now dealing with a UK company with all the checks and balances that implies.

Then in 2009 I received the cabinet report for the 2009 meeting, which clearly shows that this was just lies and that the company was still a BVI company and that the £1m security came directly from another BVI company.

Obviously the accounts for SFP UK show it to be and always have been a dormant company, so any SFP that is able to finance the project is a BVI company, or even no company at all and with the council taking the stance that any money coming into a UK bank account via Credit Suisse is legitimate money, then you just can’t tell who is behind it.

Back in 2004 I wrote to all the councillors making it very clear that I thought they were putting themselves in the untenable position where it would be impossible for them to prove that they weren’t financially involved in this project. 

Effectively you now have a position where anyone can say to you Cllr Green, you’re the part owner of a company that has used council privilege to obtain a low market price for a council property leasehold which you are now trying to obtain the freehold of at below market value and I don’t think you could disprove it.

Frankly I think you and the other cabinet members ought to come down on this situation very firmly, get clear documentation about what due diligence was done by officers both in 2006 when the initial leases were issued and later in 2009 when the variation was issued.           

39 comments:

  1. It is interesting to note that although nothing is known about SFP BVI there is still a proposal to hand over the freehold of Pleasurama to this company or its UK subsidiary company.

    SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd is worth minus £3399 so where is the £3.5 million coming from to purchase the site? Surely due diligence would include a check on the source of finance to eliminate any future suspicion of money laundering.

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    1. Readit the council have told me in writing that if they receive the money from a UK bank, then they consider that money to be legitimately sourced, and they consider that they have no further responsibilities with regard to money laundering legislation.

      In fact as far as I can see their money laundering policy relies entirely on getting money from UK banks and nothing else, so they would only consider it necessary to check the money was legitimately sourced if the developer decided to pay in cash or with a foreign cheque.

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    2. Bayford shares an office with Painter who works with Keegan? They must have a fairly good idea of the various changes of ownership/construction plans of Pleasurama after the fire? And how an offshore company with no funds can have TDC bending over backwards on the leases?

      Both the bank and TDC would need to verify the funds. A BVI company would set alarm bells ringing for such a large development with all the above problems.

      Cardy must have been paid for its work on the site and sudden cancellation. TDC paid them?

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  2. Land transaction payments in the UK are normally carried out between the purchaser's and the vendor's solicitors' clients accounts which are usually located in a UK bank but how that money arrives in the bank account relies on the purchaser's solicitor being law abiding, which is not always the case.

    Some solicitors are involved in the setting up of offshore companies, I think due diligence would need to be more comprehensive than trusting the purchaser's solicitor.

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  3. And there was me thinking developers usually paid in cash round here. Typically in 50s, crammed into a brown envelope.

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    1. Eastcliffe, Please leave Ezekiel out of it now. He is behind bars.

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  4. This seems to be a very complex situation and gives I think a perception of lack of transparency although this does not necessarily mean that there is anything untoward. It just makes it difficult for us taxpayers to judge the Council's performance on progressing one of the biggest developments on the island.

    There seems to be so much that is kept from taxpayers. Even the public notice (which says it's to correct inaccuracies in Friday's Gazette) at

    http://www.thanet.gov.uk/news/public_notices/regen_manager_clarification.aspx?lang=en-gb

    says that "Finally, Mr. Philip Hamberger did not leave the council as part of a cost cutting exercise. The circumstances of his departure are a confidential matter." Again how can we judge whether this was in the best interests of the taxpayer and I thought that it was reported as being an amicable parting at the time so why the need for to keep things under wraps?

    There just seems to be so much kept from public scrutiny that conspiracy theories are bound to arise and who knows what's really true?

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  5. I fail to see what is complex about a local authority doing a land transaction with an offshore company or its insolvent subsidiary, I think it can be summed up in two words "not advisable".

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  6. When will TDC pass this matter to either the District Auditor (again) or an independent investigator. Too much to hide on both sides is why they wont.

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  7. Clearly you overstate your case Michael, or can you show that there are other beneficial interest interests other than Mr Keegan connected to SFP services Ltd?

    This oft mentioned "how does a company with -£4k in the bank, buy property" does amuse me. Tell me, how many here have bought there house with the contents of thier current account!

    Time to stop making ridiculous accusations based on non "facts".

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    2. I think your comment has racist undertones, Solo Gays. Contracts are awarded all the time by TDC to English companies and most of the councillors are also English. Is that also a devious link. Grow up man, you are getting as silly as Worrow.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. SG comment deleted for racist content.

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    5. You just beat me to it Michael. My apologies to all readers of Irish descent. In linking the dialect of parties in a business deal I have inadvertently caused offence.

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    6. No worries SG busy with other things and hadn’t noticed until I got a chance to read through the comments this evening.

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    7. John Hamilton, I think the whole point of forming an offshore company is that no one can tell who owns it.

      I guess an individual like a company would be able to get a mortgage based on their track record, income, the value of the property and of course normal standard practices, so to get a mortgage for a Royal Sands property which would be on an EA designated high risk flood zone the individual would need a flood risk assessment.

      Sorry you thought I was overstating my case, I thought I was being fairly restrained, no post tagging, links, mention of The Royal Sands and so on.

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    8. I dont think Michael mentions anywhere SFP Services Ltd which is also a BVI company with money lodged in a Geneva Bank. So I wonder where JH got the name from. The original developer was SFP Venture partners Ltd also registered in BVI. The name SFP Services ltd only surfaces in september 2008 in a letter addressed to the Council

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    9. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Oh James, the ONLY thing you've EVER managed to actually prove is that you are simply a worthless pedant, not capable of producing a case you can evidence. I STILL have yet to see any evidence of wrong doing from you James, you simply post BS, and expect it to be taken seriously. Why don't YOU take your BS to the police, so they can laugh as you aswell.....

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  8. TDc, where are the certified accounts of the company you have handed a long, long lease to of public land? You don't give someone land under the demise of a development when they don't have the means to build it.

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  9. Perhaps we are all looking at this from the wrong angle? Perhaps we should be asking what legitimate reasons there could be for a developer to choose to register their company offshore and in such a way as to obscure the identities of those who have a controlling interest in that company. I would be interested to hear views on this subject (but not from Clarke, Holyer or Hamilton, who dominate discussions on local blog-sites and rarely have anything of value to say).

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    1. Anon this is from a 2003 advert telling potential customers of the “advantages” of setting up a BVI company, I sent it to all of the councillors when I discovered SFP was a BVI company, I may help you to form some ideas:

      A BVI company can be used for holding land and buildings for the purpose of development and or generating rental income or realising capital gains. Strategies can be employed in order to minimise or eliminate taxes in the country where the property is located.
      No public record is kept of the identity of shareholders or directors
      The books and records of the company may be maintained anywhere
      No accounts or annual summaries have to be filed with the Government
      No taxes on dividends, interest, royalties, capital gains, inheritance, gifts or any other income derived outside the BVI;
      No requirement to file annual return s or financial statements;
      No requirement to hold annual general meetings of shareholders or directors;
      Full exemption from taxation on any business activity or transaction carried on outside the BVI;
      Complete business privacy and confidentiality;
      Minimal capital requirements and minimal registration fee on capital;
      Nominative or Bearer shares at owner's option;
      Companies are allowed to have sole director;
      The shareholders, directors and officers may be of any nationality and may be resident of any country;
      Neither the director nor the officers need be shareholders;
      Directors and/or officers can be either corporate entities or natural persons;
      There is no requirement to register initial, or ongoing, changes in director(s) and/or officer(s);
      A company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands has the same powers as a natural person;
      No disclosure of the beneficial owners is required
      No Company Secretary is required
      No local Director is required
      Directors and Shareholders meetings may take place anywhere (even via telephone)"

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    2. I would use this to buy up Pleasurama dirt-cheap with the promise of bungs to councillors and business friends after planning permission/grants and the sale of any development on it. Minimal cost. Huge profits. Secrecy. Marvellous. you could even build it above the cliff, withpout planning permission and various changes to the designs, reductions in the guarantees required.

      Godden is dead. The Gang of Four sacked/paid off for silence. But Bayford and Painter/Keegan are still here. And Labour who are keen to follow on with the same deisgns etc.

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  10. John Hamilton

    It is a common practice in Thanet to accuse people of having no evidence. But the irony is that those who challenge bloggers to publish evidence are also those who cry foul when cllrs are asked to publish answers.

    Cllrs seek the vote of the people. A Cllr in effect commits to answer, in exchange for votes, questions from the electorate. Questions that are loaded by implying the public interest they carry. Which is why making a libel case is a bit different for an elected person than for a member of the public.

    When cllrs are properly questioned but elect silence they are in essence betraying the trust of the people they are charged to represent in public office.

    Michael has asked the right questions. He does not have to provide his own answers.

    And because it is a BVI company Michael cannot say who has a beneficial interest. The issue is that neither can TDC but they are the ones in charge of public money and public interest and duties in money laundering law.



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  11. Anon, 10:19, why do you hide so?

    I would be happy to see any shred of evidence of any kind from the likes of Barry James, simple fact, all he has is amatuerish bullshit, inuendo accusations and 0 evidence to back any of it. Michael is well meaning, but strectches credibility WAY past breaking point, by simply making "suggestions" which he then goes onto to fail to prove.

    Guess what, to do business with a company, there is no requirement to know who all the people who have a beneficial interest are, and that even assumes there are more than Mr Keegan, which again Michael UTTERLY failes to show.

    Anon 8:46, easy to pay less tax, try asking intelligent questions in future ;-)

    No Michael, the whole point of formign an offshore comapny is to pay less tax, nothing wrong or illegal in that. I see you're still cling to your FLA despite one clearly not being required. I think you need to read a little recent history, and learn about the recession of the last few years, seems that could be a minor reason for funds being hard to find.

    Once again you overreach what facts you have can support by a LARGE margin, overstating your position Michael weakens it considerably, I suggest you choose a different approach in the future, and only claim what you can evidence, an appraoch that may help you have more success in the alarmist unsupportable approach you have chosen to date.

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    1. As usual, John Hamilton makes a simplistic statement accompanied by a silly derogatory remark, in a vain attempt to make himself look smart. The question about "legitimate reasons" for setting up a one-off offshore company (which this is) was carefully phrased and I was hoping for a more intelligent and considered reponse, possibly, from someone who knows what they are talking about. I think we are all aware that offshore companies are set up to minimise tax liabilities. But, it isn't legitimate for anyone to set up an offshore company, thereby rendering the proceeds of their business activities free of tax. If this were true every business in the UK would have done it long ago. Michael could register his bookshop offshore and pay no tax on the millions he makes flogging old paperbacks. It is simply untrue to state that any business venture can be registered offshore to avoid tax and it is untrue to state that tax avoidance is legal. It may or may not be. Personally, I can't see HMRC agreeing that a venture which derives all of its profits from an activity taking place on mainland UK is not liable for UK tax just because the company involved is registered elsewhere. In addition, minimising the tax bill for a company is not the same as minimising the tax bill for an individual. Any individuals involved in a UK-based business, who are resident in the UK would still need to get the money back into the country and would be liable for income tax on that money. Evasion of income tax is a criminal offence and, if the purpose of setting up an offshore company, was to hide the identities of individuals with a view to avoiding income tax, this would be illegal.

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    2. There is ample proof available as to the source of the £1M deposit paid via SFP Ventures (UK) ltd via Credit Suisse in 2009 however what the council neglected to do was identify how the £1M got into a geneva bank and who put the money up for the deposit as SFP services ltd is also registered in the British Virgin Islands. I am prepared to meet with TDC and District Auditor to go through it. Serious Organised Crime Authority also are requiring a report which will be forwarded along with proof. If anyone wants to see the file I am more than happy to show it

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    3. Well done Barry - very interesting: so we have 2 SFP's both registered in BVI and one funding £1M to the other to purchase Pleasurama? Is there a weblink to the documents or can Michael or Driver post them on their sites?

      Ignore Hamilton he's just the most unpleasant of the FoxtrotOscar brigade of idiots. He'll no doubt pop up to request random, unknown proof supported by Tom Clarke or Holyer, while only providing hot air himself.

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    4. my copy in my file available should the powers that be need it. I have to say its in TDC's possession if they look. dont know if Michael can post but I have no problem if someone wants to meet up

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    5. Sorry Barry I sent this council document to the council asking them to send me a redacted version and this information was on one of the pages they removed completely. So it falls into the bracket of one of the council documents I hold about the development that the council have asked me not to publish.

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    6. Completely baffled by these comments: SOCA haven't the document yet? What is the document? A TDC document that's been sent back to TDC and then returned censored? And TDC request other TDC documents on Pleasurama not to be published?

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    7. Anon, my approach with TDC is to try and stay within their codes of practice with what I publish on this blog, so if I obtain confidential TDC documents I respect their confidentiality and discuss their publication with their chief executive and the head of their legal department.

      I think it is fair to say that pretty much every organisation leaks information a certain amount, and I guess I try to take a responsible approach to this.

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    8. Anon 5:04, your post is some of the funniest BS i have had the good fortune to read in some weeks. Leaving aside the laughable inaccuracies (90% of your post), "it is untrue to state that tax avoidance is legal" has to be the funniest evidence of your lack of knowledge.

      Tax avoidance is and always legal, tax evasion is is illegal, which is which depends upon the interpritaion of the law. I suggest you shuffle off and educate yourself before I have cause to ridicule you further. Michael's bookshop, registered offshore and would therefore pay no tax HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA SO funny!

      James, why would TDC and the district auditor waste their time meeting an insignificant pedant, who has proof of nothing at all? Why not take your laughable accusations to the police direct, or are you afraid of the very possible charge of wasting police time?

      Anon10:36, you know you have to have evidence before you can prove any charges made right? Does your limited IQ at least realise that very VERY simple premise? I look forward to any kind of evidence from any area of wrong doing, seems accusations and cheap and plentiful, proof is non existant.

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  12. Thanks John

    I will address my understanding of the point Michael makes. This way.

    For argument purposes suppose there is a death at the site or at the completed project.

    There is an inquest and one of its legal objectives is to "Allay suspicion"

    How could that be done ?

    Are any public officers of the Planning Authority and Freeholder holders of beneficial interest in the development company ?

    Where you are disingenuous is that you cite "Doing business". TDC is not doing business with developers it is the regulatory authority.

    You indulge circular argument. The reason Michael cannot show whether Keegan holds beneficial interest or who does hold beneficial interest is because it is a BVI company.

    So this point of yours, that you appear to think is profound, amounts to this "Michael can't find out cos no one can find out". That is you talking bullshit and it certainly is not you talking sense John.

    It is totally spurious to claim that Michael's approach is "Alarmist". He has done a really good job of raising the right questions. That is his right. In the early days he took a lot of flak.

    Now the passage of time emphasises the fiasco and support gathers for Michael, Cllr Ian Driver, in my view, is blatantly cuckoo in the nest stealing Michael's valour.

    The weakness in the position you adopt John is at no point do you produce evidence for any burden of proof upon Michael. You steam in with your sound and fury. Actually saying ? Nothing.

    Giovanni Di Stefano of Canterbury was convicted a couple of weeks ago of a number of offences. One being using a bogus draft letter of a bank as a false instrument. What evidence have you got John that TDC used due diligence to ensure the bona fides of the documents that induced them to "Do business" with people they cannot even name ?



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    1. A company is in itself a legal entity in law. It's directors, executives and shareholders can change so their names are of little meaning. Not sure that folk wasting their lives on unsubstantiated accusations is in anyway productive. Surely the object should be to get the site redeveloped. If, after that happens, a councillor suddenly becomes mega rich then you can exercise your suspicious minds.

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    2. Your 1st meandering comments anon 6.07 are dealt with nicely by anon9:04

      You think TDC does not engage in business, well how naive of you.

      I'm afraid the only bullshit anon6:07 is clearly yours. You seem to draw inferences of guilt, when there is no evidence of guilt, simply on the basis that evidence is not available. How childish of you.

      I have the utmost respect for Michael, but he is misguided, and is certainly both alarmist sensationalist. You however engender no respect whatsoever.

      I of course agree with you on Driver's position, clearly the daft dishonest clown has grabbed this bandwagon with both hands and is riding it as far as possible.

      The rest of your post is quite honestly simply inane anbd childish drool. Where is your EVIDENCE of of wrong doing Anon.....

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  13. Addressing your point about names John. A common name is Michael Hill.

    here's one for example

    Is he the knowledgeable military fellow who writes favourable reviews for this chap ?

    Allan Mallinson

    Not such a common name. In fact there isn't one on Kent electoral rolls on the face of it.

    yet we have one blogging in Thanet.

    What's in a name.

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    1. There is no 'Retired' or 'Rick' or 'God Fearing Christian' or even 'Eastcliff Richard' in the electoral rolls so are the opinions of such equally inadmissable?

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  14. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-22096722

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