ALTHOUGH the State this month moved to transfer CL Financial shares in Republic Bank into a new trust fund, former CLF executive chairman Lawrence Duprey will still retain ties to a cluster of 13,191,640 shares in Republic Bank Limited through a secret offshore company called First Company Limited, a CLF group company.
While the State recently announced it has started the process of transferring Clico’s 51,858,299 shares (32 percent) in RBL and the Clico Investment Bank’s 17,696,905 shares (ten percent) in RBL into a safe trust called the Clico Investment Fund, it has not announced any action in relation to the shares held by First Company Limited which represent an eight percent stake in RBL.
Over the last five years, First Company Limited has been listed as among the top ten largest shareholders of Republic Bank. The company is listed in the Annual Reports for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
But the fact of First Company Limited’s ties to the CLF group was only disclosed for the first time in the RBL Annual Report of 2011.
In the directors’ report, under the standard list of ten largest shareholders on page 10, a small asterisk appears next to First Company Limited. That small symbol leads to the following declaration: “* Member of the CL Financial Group”. Checks by Sunday Newsday revealed that First Company Limited is registered as an international business company (IBC) in St Lucia’s offshore banking jurisdiction.
Under St Lucia law, all dividend income earned by this company and paid out to officials of the company – whether resident in St Lucia or not – is tax free, as are transfers of property of the company.Under St Lucian law, the owners of IBCs are not disclosed in public filings, offering secrecy to prospective proprietors.