What have Volcanoes, Grenada and St Vincent & the Grenadines got in common?

Is that the start of a joke?

I think we should write this article and let our readers decide, don’t you?

Intriguing?

Possibly.

Are we going to see some real people in this discussion?

Yes! Would you like to meet them?

Yes please.

OK. Here they are:

Wow! They’re not exactly run of the mill names, are they?

No, they are not.

Are they PSCs?

You’ll have to wait a minute to find that out.

Spoil sport!

I can’t give away all my secrets this early in the piece. I’m trying to build a bit of suspense here.

OK. So why don’t you start at the beginning. I assume there is a beginning.

JSC Morinzhgeologia LLP.

Ok, that’s quite a beginning. That, somewhat typically, looks a bit Russian to me.

It is. Or similar. I think it means something like “marine geology” but I could be wrong.

It’s a strange name for a Limited Liability Partnership.

It is, especially as JSC also stands for Joint Stock Company and is very common in Eastern European entities. And even more so as there is a company based in Riga called Joint Stock Company Morinzhgeologia. As well as a Limited Liability Company Morinzhgeologia in Astrakhan, Russia.

What do we know about the UK entity?

It was incorporated on 17 January 2011, it’s had 11 officers, 8 of whom have resigned and 3 are current. Do you want to see a list?

Yes please.

What was going on with Twinport Express Ltd?

I’m not entirely sure.

We know some of the others, don’t we?

We surely do. Like:

ITMA!

ITMA?

It’s that man again!

He likes to make an appearance.

Like’s got nothing to do with it. Every one of these case studies always seems to link to him.

Yes they do, don’t they.

Back to the case in point. Does it have a Person with Significant Control?

Yes!

Oh good. Can I see it?

Here you are.

It’s another RLE. Although I guess as it’s registered at Companies House it is a Registrable RLE.

Correct. In fact it was registered on 24 January 2018.

But that’s the same day it became the PSC for our LLP. It was created just to be the PSC.

It certainly looks like it.

So does Portoro Trade have any PSCs?

Let me show you the share register.

That’s the same screenshot as above with the shareholdings added, isn’t it.

Yes.

And they own 1 share each. Or 25%. So none of them are PSCs.

That’s about the sum of it, yes.

But at least we know who they are.

True, but I’m not sure they really are the people who truly exercise significant control.

Why do you say that?

Well, for a start, here’s a list of all the companies which have been registered at Companies House since 10 January this year which have exactly the same structure.

Wait, you mean these four people own more than one company.

Oh yes. And by the way, Melissa Keisha Da Silver-Miller is director of all of them as well.

Ok. So show me the others.

You asked.

Whoa!! How many companies are there in that list?

Including Portoro Trade Ltd… 80.

80 companies. All with exactly the same shareholders and director?

Yes.

And all in the last few months? Why?

I don’t know for sure but I suspect to be used, like Portoro Trade Ltd, as PSCs for other LLPs. I’ve certainly tracked down Reddex Group Ltd as the PSC for Panafort LP – a Scottish Limited Partnership which appears to be doing business with Ukraine. And Gotland Selection Ltd was appoint PSC to Sandy Island Group LP (another SLP about whom I could find nothing) also on 22 January this year. Both, incidentally, were appointed the same day they were formed.

You like those SLPs don’t you?

Is that the obligatory piece of sarcasm I have to endure every article?

Might be…

But who are these people who own 25% of 80 companies which will, by extrapolation, have significant control over at least 80 LLPs.

Shall we see if we can find out. They may well turn out to be wealthy investors.

Before we do; Eyjafjallajokull Volcano Ltd. That triggers some sort of recent memory. Other than the fact it completes the riddle you started this article with.

Actually, there are lots of volcanoes in the titles in the list above but that one is probably the most memorable. It’s the one in Iceland that caused all the planes to be grounded a few years ago.

Of course! What a strange name for a company.

Isn’t it. Anyway, let’s see if we can track down our shareholders.

Let’s start with Melissa Keisha Da-Silva Miller as she is both shareholder and director of 80 or more companies.

OK. The best I can find is a LinkedIn profile which says she was a student at St Vincent Community College between 2014 and 2016 and she has one connection on LinkedIn.

How old is she?

Born April 1983 so she’s just turned 35.

Oh, Ok. And the others?

Let’s try the wonderfully named Jumo Ojavi Cemarla Grant. I’m willing to bet there aren’t many people who share his name.

And…

After much searching I tracked him down to the St Vincent Electoral Roll for East Kingstown, St Vincent where his employment is given as “Supervisor”.

And the others?

A Facebook page for Misha and some sort of cryptocurrency venture for Kemlyn and that’s about it.

So no evidence that any of them are high flying investors able to fund or control more than 80 UK companies?

Nothing.

What do you make of all this?

Just for once, I’m going to be quite explicit.

I think it is utter nonsense to believe that these people are truly controllers of all these limited companies. Which means that when these companies are themselves put forward (as some already have been) as PSCs of UK Limited Liability Partnerships, it is a sham.

You have a straightforward choice. You either believe that four quite ordinary people from a couple of different Caribbean islands are the owners of these companies, one of which I’ve investigated and which is clearly linked to commercial activities in Russia and the Baltics, or that there is, hiding behind them, other less public faces who wish to remain hidden to the point that they will put forward “nominee” shareholders in order to misrepresent the true ownership and control of these entities.

And I can’t think of any good reasons why they should be doing so on this truly industrial scale without it involving activities which may well fall on the wrong side of the law.

Which means that our much vaunted system of corporate transparency is probably working very well for all the people who don’t need it as they are fundamentally honest in the first place, and rather less well when it comes to those who clearly have reasons to obfuscate their ownership of these companies and partnerships and appear rapidly to have worked out how to circumvent the requirements.

So your article heading wasn’t the opening line of a joke, then?

Er… no.