I must thank, as I start, the extraordinarily diligent Billybhoy68 for his fantastic and thorough research on this and the following piece. The raw material and much of the analysis is down to him – I have merely inserted some extra verbiage in what is, at the very least, a very ironic tale, and at worst, could be …. Well, who knows!
Mr Whyte, as we all now know, was disqualified for seven years in 2000 from being a company director in the UK. The Sunday Herald yesterday raised questions about his company, Liberty Capital Ltd, registered in the British Virgin Islands, doing business in the UK during that period. Even though that is perfectly legal, it does seem to raise questions about the efficacy of the company disqualification laws, where they could be circumvented by means of an offshore company (although it is not suggested that Mr Whyte indulged in any such doubtfully legal behaviour).
Billybhoy68 was also intrigued by this period in Mr Whyte’s life. Did Mr Whyte, he wondered, devote all his time and energy to running his BVI operations from his home in the playground of the rich and famous in Monaco?
The detective work which follows is worthy of Sherlock at his very best!
We start with the above domain which was registered on 15th April 2004. It is an interesting and either a nostalgic or precient domain name, to say the least.
It becomes more so when we see, as shown below, the email address of the “Administrative contact”. (If, like me, the eyesight is not as good as it was, click on each image to enlarge.)
That is a Mr David Smith, whose email address is given as email@example.com. Now, do we know of anyone with the initials CTW and a connection with a company called Liberty Capital? Yes, I think we do!
Sadly “David Smith” is such a common name that we have not been able to locate him. It would be wrong to make any accusation that this was a name created by Mr Whyte for the occasion. It is almost certainly one of his hapless admin staff who, as we know, are dreadful at keeping track of the official paperwork. Mr Whyte would therefore be quite justified in making sure that his underling’s email went to him personally.
You will also notice the phone number listed under the Florida address “3054338101”.
That leads us on to the next part of the story.
This domain was first registered on 14th March 2003 to Bullion Reserve Ltd. The Registered contact is listed on the registration as shown below.
The telephone number matches that of Mr Smith of LeaveBritain.com, but now is attached (a) to a PO Box address in the BVI and (b) the contact is given as “Thomas Craig”. There are three options I can think of: (a) it is a coincidence that Mr Craig Thomas Whyte has a member of staff called “Thomas Craig” (and coincidences do happen); (b) Mr Whyte’s admin people have, yet again, failed miserably to record official details correctly; or (c) (and we must of course rule out this last option as highly improbable, if not downright inconceivable) Mr Whyte deliberately put down the wrong name.
The Bullion Reserve website is no more, but thanks to the internet archives we can still see what it was like by this link.
A couple of the screenshots are below.
So we have a company set up by “Thomas Craig” dealing in bullion, and in fact a “world leader in global bullion trading and in electronic transaction systems”. Even better, this company offers services which can send gold bars to anyone in the world with an email address, a check (sic) to anyone in the world or indeed can pay employees and suppliers anywhere in the world! (Any unkind people who state that the latter means this cannot be connected to Craig Whyte should leave immediately!)
Whilst BullionReserve.com no longer appears on the web, there is a BullionReserves.com. This company is described as follows:-
“Bullion Reserves is fully owned by Sovereign Asset, a global financial and investment conglomerate. Head-quartered at Zurich, Switzerland, the $2-billion plus Sovereign Asset has interests in private banking, global investment solutions, portfolio management service, mergers and acquisitions and other financial and risk management products. We have presence in 23 countries, including the US, the UK, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Two decade-old Sovereign Asset is built up on high ethical standards in support of our clients across the globe. All our practices are designed to safeguard our clients and our business interests.”
I have not yet been able to ascertain when BullionReserves.com started, as opposed to Mr Craig’s BullionReserve.com which was registered in 2003, but it might be that the very wealthy Sovereign Asset saw the success of Mr Craig’s business and decided to muscle in. Alternatively it is merely a coincidence that Mr Craig’s business commenced with a name one letter away from that of such a major financial institution. I am sure that any operations carried out on the bullion trading and electronic transaction market by Mr Craig’s company were at all times done on the basis that the distinction between both bullion organisations was made clear. Anyone dealing with BullionReserve.com (based in the BVI) would undoubtedly have been made aware of the similarity of names to ensure they did not actually mean to use BullionReserves.com (part of Sovereign Asset) and vice-versa.
I must confess that, at present, I have not been able to clarify what regulatory regime would have applied to a BVI based, and Monaco resident, bullion dealer offering a worldwide service, including transacting with clients in the USA. No doubt, Mr Craig would have fulfilled all such requirements.
I did notice the following information on this link regarding bullion dealing in the USA.
“Q Are bullion transactions of $10,000 or more reported to the (US) government?
A Only if they involve cash or cash instruments such as cashiers checks which total over $10,000. No report on transactions involving single checks or bankwires are required. Currency regulations involving amounts over $10,000 were designed to thwart money launderers and drug dealers.”
This would all suggest that Mr Whyte’s claims of wealth untold (or those made allegedly on his behalf to newspapers) may well have had their foundations on his gold dealing whilst absent from the UK.
As I wrote before, Mr Whyte’s tale of how, having reached the heights, he fell to earth, but rose phoenix like to buy “the second most important institution in Scotland” deserves to be told to as wide an audience as possible so as to inspire future entrepreneurs.
It would be wrong for a casual observer of these matters to detect any similarity with Mr Whyte’s known business practices as regards (a) having very similar business names to much larger companies (b) having different variations of his name on official documents and (c) being very unforthcoming about his successes.
As has been commented before, all of this can be accounted for by errors by his staff and an innate modesty which should be admired in these days of self-aggrandisement.