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Major Vancouver investment firm among local companies in the Panama Papers

Haywood Securities executive surprised that his company showed up in database leak

What do a Vancouver investment firm, mining company and dating hotline have in common?

They are all listed in the May 9-released Panama Papers database, the massive leak of client records held by Mossack Fonseca, the Panama City law firm that specializes in offshore incorporation.

An executive at Haywood Securities said he was surprised that his firm showed up, but denied any impropriety.

“Anything that came out of that legal office, they’re throwing into the wind and seeing if it means anything,” Haywood vice-president Robert Disbrow told Business in Vancouver. “If someone was hiding something, that’s a different story; they’re going to be caught by the proper authorities.”

The leaked client records include names and addresses of shareholders of offshore companies and middlemen who set-up and run shell companies. A disclaimer on the International Center for Investigative Journalism website says there are legitimate uses for offshore companies and just because someone is named in the Panama Papers does not mean they have broken any laws.

Disbrow and fellow Haywood vice-president Eric Savics are listed as shareholders and beneficiaries of Isle of Man-based Stockdale Ltd. Another entry said Disbrow a shareholder of GEM Diamond Mining Co. of Africa Ltd., which operates in Lesotho and Botswana, with a registered address in Zhejiangsheng, China. Disbrow said he cannot recall owning those shares, but admitted he is a shareholder in 2014-incorporated Kola Gold Ltd. with, among others, his client and ex-wife Marna Disbrow.

“I have no idea why a fully disclosed shareholding in a private company out of the British Virgin Islands would show up in those papers, it makes no sense,” Disbrow said.

The company, which is exploring in the Republic of Congo and Mali, used Mossack Fonseca’s London office as an intermediary.

The database also lists Disbrow’s Point Grey residence as the registered address for 2014-incorporated Everocean (TSN) International Transport Co. Ltd. of Seychelles and as an address associated with Zheng Yuzhen, a shareholder in Samoa-incorporated Bobac International Co. Ltd. of Qingdao, China. Disbrow said that he did not know who Zheng is.

The database mentions 22 Haywood Securities trust accounts in 2011-dissolved African Aura Resources Ltd. and entries for clients from Indonesia and Peru and even the Swiss-based Banque Privee Edmond de Rothschild.

Haywood’s chief compliance officer Bruce Thompson said via email that the company is satisfied that its citations in the Panama Papers reflect only lawful activities.

“Our review indicates that the Haywood-connected names relate to ordinary course and disclosed investments in public companies who were incorporated and maintained their corporate registered offices in an offshore jurisdiction,” Thompson wrote.

Coincidentally, Haywood made $333,200 in donations to the BC Liberals over a decade, of which $201,000 was on a single day the same 2010 week that Premier Gordon Campbell announced his resignation. Marna Disbrow, one of the B.C. NDP’s biggest individual donors, gave $69,050 over eight years.

Haywood CEO Rob Blanchard told BIV that his company made the large single-day donation on November 8, 2010, after receiving a call from Canaccord founder and prominent BC Liberal supporter Peter Brown.
“If Peter hadn’t have called, I don’t know that we would’ve even made the donation on our own, but we got the call and wanted to do our part,” Blanchard said.
B.C., unlike Alberta and Ontario, has no laws regulating who can donate how much to political parties.

Vancouver’s Ivanhoe Mines, which became Turquoise Hill Resources in 2012, once had five 1993-incorporated B.V.I. entities with Mossack Fonseca as their agent: Ivanhoe Comivan Holdings Ltd., Desarrollos Mineros Ivanhoe Holding Ltd., Concesiones Mineras Ivanhoe Holding Ltd., Ivanhoe Vikingo Holdings Ltd. and Ivanhoe Myanmar Holdings Ltd. The latter was active until 2004.

Teligence, the Vancouver company behind late night TV ads for telephone dating hotlines, incorporated various similarly named entities in 2001 or 2002. Six of them were under the jurisdiction of Seychelles and one in Panama. The latter, the Panama Papers entry for The Advanced Solution Foundation, said it was “struck off” on January 15 of this year. Its registered address was at the Arango-Orillac Building in Panama City, headquarters of Mossack Fonseca.

Teligence chairman Rob Madigan did not respond for an interview request.