23 April, 2009


There are two web pages I want you to read. One is a judgment of the High Court in Anguilla in relation to how the Attorney-General’s Chambers handled the case against Joe Brice. The A-G’s Chambers were representing Niguel Streete. He is the Director of the Anguilla Financial Services Commission. The Commission is the offshore industry watchdog for Anguilla. The judgment is only three pages long. Read it and weep. If you need any explanation for any part of it, let me know. After you have finished reading, tell me which of you would want the A-G’s Chambers representing you in a dog bite case.

The second web page, titled Undue Diligence, belongs to Global Witness. It concerns the case of Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso. He is the son of the President of the Republic of Congo. He stands accused of stealing the oil wealth of the citizens of Congo. He used an Anguillian company, Long Beach, to do some of his embezzlements. [This report is very long. Use the search feature to find the bits that mention Anguilla.]

Global Witness is an international NGO established in 1993. It works to break the links between natural resource exploitation, conflict, poverty, corruption, and human rights abuses worldwide. This is a story of corruption in high places in Congo. My concern is how the events revealed affect Anguilla. The connection with Anguilla is the entities ICS Trust and ICS International. These are Hong Kong based company formation agents. Orient Investments is part of ICS. Orient Investments set up Long Beach in Anguilla. It held the shares in Long Beach in trust for Nguesso.

In addition to being the President’s son, Nguesso is also responsible for marketing Congo’s oil. He opened a bank account at one of Hong Kong’s largest banks. He had some of the proceeds of Congo’s oil sales deposited to it. He had his personal credit card bills paid from it. He stole millions. He squandered the proceeds on designer shopping in Paris and elsewhere. The UK High Court ruled in 2007 that Nguesso and his company were “unsavoury and corrupt”.

Up to now, the story is the usual one of private greed and public loss. An Anguillian company had been set up for the most despicable and corrupt of reasons: the rape and pillage of an impoverished nation’s resources. Anguilla’s connection might appear at most to be peripheral. The real shame comes when we learn that as far back as 2007 Global Witness wrote to Niguel Streete alerting him to this international fraud. We learn that Mr Streete assured Global Witness that he was dealing with the matter. It appears that it took a full year for Mr Streete to do anything at all. The best he could do, after repeated prodding, was to strike Long Beach off the Register of Companies in July 2008. This action is generally accepted as the administrative equivalent of sweeping the dust under the carpet while shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Nguesso’s exploitation of his people by the use of an Anguillian vehicle is a problem. The solution is for the local regulators and industry representatives to vehemently condemn this abuse of our facilities, and then to take whatever action they can to demonstrate that such conduct will not be acceptable.

Has Anguilla signed legislation making corruption elsewhere in the world an offence in Anguilla?

Anguilla’s company management laws make it compulsory for offshore providers to perform due diligence on prospective clients. Has there been a breach of this law? If there has been, what action needs to be taken?

Why did it take a full year from the time Mr Streete was alerted to the fraud for him to take even this lame and ineffectual action?

Does Mr Streete plan any further action against Orient Investments?

Will disciplinary action be brought against ICS if any is justified?

What is the Anguilla Financial Services Association doing to ensure that international bandits are not permitted to mis-use our jurisdiction?

How ready are we to confront and reassure the coming CFATF, and IMF, and Michael Foot’s review visits and assessments that will take place in the next few weeks?

Failure by Mr Streete’s office to proceed diligently and firmly in this matter will most likely result in further serious damage to Anguilla’s reputation.

Does Mr Streete have any other lawyer representing him besides the A-G’s Chambers? If not, I strongly recommend he find one. He needs competent legal advice.

Let me say that I have not researched Orient Investments. I have no idea who the local agent is. She might be my mother, for all I know. For the purposes of this post, it matters not.

And, finally, for any concern that this post will damage Anguilla’s offshore financial services industry, the answer is that the damage has already been done. These publications I refer to are out there in the public domain. It will only take one of our competitors, the financial services sectors of London or New York perhaps, to bring the story to the attention of Reuters or AP.


  1. In my limited experience but broader understanding, I do not think that any crime has been committed in Anguilla or in Hong Kong. It is possible that a crime might have been committed in the Republic of Congo but the chances are that if one has been, the authorities have considered all aspects of the matter and have decided not to prosecute.

    Of course, come the revolution there and things might be different.

  2. On a related point - have you seen the Proceeds of Crime Bill (or attended the meetings on it)? This legislation apparently is needed to make AXA more FATF compliant. Bear in mind we have these reviews coming up so there is a movement to push it through ASAP. Lolita is furious with it. She says it contains some draconian measures. According to her, it's a "piece of crap". This is an election year. Unless this Bill is presented in a different way, I can see this becoming "Planning Bill 2".

  3. The suggestion that this post will damage Anguilla's financial services industry is interesting. But what are you supposed to do when wrong is brought to your attention? Instead of revealing the truth about the disinclination to enforce our financial regulations, perhaps you should write a nice letter to Mr. Streete, or the FSC, or the Governor, asking them please to enforce the law. This would allow them to once again sweep the whole mess under the carpet. Has no one done that already? In fact, isn't this what Global Witness already did? And nothing at all was done for a year and nothing truly effective has been done up to today. The systemic wrongs in our financial services system that need to be corrected won't be changed by striking Long Beach off the register.

  4. Another problem is the disinclination of the Financial Services administration to enforce the law. Their approach seems to be similar to that used in regard to the law that says I must not throw my beer bottles out of my car while driving down the road. There is no enforcement whatsoever. I am encouraged to continue my habits by Government, which hires people to pick up my bottles.

  5. Damage to our financial services sector isn't caused by you, Mr. Mitchell, but by those who seem to me to be managing it in such a negligent and incompetent manner. What kind of nice polite private letter could you write to Mssrs. Greene and Streete that would cause them suddenly to become competent?

  6. Dear Mr Mitchell,

    I work for Global Witness and I helped produce the report that you’ve recently featured on your blog. We were disappointed at the response that we received from Mr Streete and his slowness to act. What was particularly shocking was that the relevant documents only came to the attention of the regulator through a court case in Hong Kong and our work. Without them Long Beach would still be trading.

    It’s fantastic to see someone in one of the BOTs highlight the links between corruption and the financial services sector. You raise some really interesting questions at the end of the blog, especially in relation to the apparent lack of any “disciplinary action” against ICS or Orient. It backs up a lot of what the National Audit Office said in 2007.

    We are campaigning for regulators such as the FSC (but also the British FSA) to get their act together when it comes to tackling the laundering of the proceeds of corruption.

    If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

    Best wishes

    Robert Palmer

  7. Robert Palmer you are the best!!! When I read your post I felt that there is hope for the future!

  8. Mr. Mitchell

    I am sure in this day and age where people sue each other over everything(making lawyers like you quite weatlhy) taking time to investigate a charge brought about before taking any action would be considered wise. Noting that is a double edge sword for any commisson around the world as they can be sued by a company manager if they unjustly take action in a matter brought forth. So I would give Mr. Nigel streete the benefit of the doubt for his handling of the the case with the congo president's son and Joe Brice. I don't think any commission anywhere would would have handled it differently. So there.

    Were you not also a 'Prominent' Company manager in this same Anguilla up until your retirement? Instead of always trying to stir trouble how about making constructive contributions to the building of the financial services industry in the same island that made you what you are.

    Ps. This embarrassing publication (for you that is)does not count as contructive.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.