Craig Whyte, Gold Dealer + LeaveBritain.com or “The Tale of a Suave Bullionaire”

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!

LeaveBritain.com

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 ctw@libertycapital.biz. 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.

BullionReserve.com

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!)

BullionReserves.com

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.

Conclusion

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.

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28 Comments

Filed under Craig Whyte's Companies, The Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.

28 responses to “Craig Whyte, Gold Dealer + LeaveBritain.com or “The Tale of a Suave Bullionaire”

  1. Ex-IP

    What can I say to this – apart from ‘fascinating’! As regards the British Virgin Islands, I’m not sure what is their legal staus. If the territory is a British Colony (or whatever that is called these days (British Overseas Tettitory?) does legislation of the Imperial Parliament (i.e. Westminster) not apply?

  2. Brian

    Excellent work, first class, no doubt Jim Traynor and Chic will claim to have had knowledge of this all along….

    Alistair Johnston last week on Sportsound asked of Mr Whyte, “tell us, what do you know now that you did not know when you bought Rangers”.

    A similar question could be asked of the Scottish media, What questions are you asking now but were too afraid to ask a year ago? Too afraid to ask questions that might have scuppered the deal, too afraid to upset David Murray and incur his wrath for having the audacity to wreck his get out plans. The biggest Story in Scottish Football for 18 years could have been had if they wanted it.

    Too afraid though and still in his pocket as Saturday nights Your Call proved. They are an affront to good journalists in this country, it pains me that they get a salary from our money.

  3. TheBlackKnight

    Surely messrs Craig and Smith birth dates would clear this misunderstanding up?

  4. Fiona

    The more I read about Craig Whyte, the more my stomach turns.

  5. RayCharles

    Top-class journalism from you both.

  6. SBhoy

    Chapeau Old Man

  7. Kaiser

    Has Gavin McShooter got any companies we should know about?!!!

  8. Paul

    Great article… did a little bit of snooping of my own. Not sure how useful this is, but I spent a couple of minutes looking into the company listed under the leavebritain.com domain. I could only find one name associated with it, not a Dave Smith in sight!

    http://www.secretaryofstate.biz/sosentitysearch/CorpDetails.aspx?lx8nvq=mwnW223njGT1aUY9%252fFPslg%253d%253d

  9. Cortes

    If the follow-up on Costa Rica needs advice on Spanish, happy to help (within reason – I have other interests 🙂 ) – email me.

  10. Jase

    Just love finding out you have an new piece up on twitter, Fantastic stuff yet again,

  11. brogan rogan trevino and hogan

    Sink me, if this Whyte/White alias Smith and Jones chappy doesn’t just pop up everywhere? Sink me it is dashed easy to get a chap’s name wrong– simple mistake really, and no need to get one’s cravat in a knot!

    I do so feel a poem coming on:

    They seek him here, they seek him there
    They seek that Whytie, everywhere.
    Is he in heaven? Is he in Hell?
    That elusive Billionaire….from Motherwell.!

    Now that is dashed good — even if I say so myself.

    Here is a chap with dashed fine boots saying just the same thing to Jim Traynor and Sir Tom English!

  12. This is the most incredible journalism. Congratulations. Will this now please be brought into main stream media with the appropriate acknowledgments for its source.

  13. Craig Whyte is obviously just a very unlucky chap. Things seem to keep going wrong for him, and the most unlikely of coincidences seem to occur when he is around.

    He deserves our pity not out scorn!

  14. Record Reader

    Is the anything preventing a disbarred director in the UK from operating in the US? Other, that is, than a sense of ethical awareness?

  15. Inspired by this dig into the past. I went back to some previous research I did into the mystery Swiss address. Most of this is to be taken in fun, and is unlikely to throw up anything serious.

    Now it may be mere coincidence that also listed for the Liberty Capital address at 8 Route de Trelex, Duillier is a company called (helpfully enough) “Campus 2000 SA, Tortola, British Virgin Islands” and that firm is owned by a Jean-Pierre Leu – who was previously involved with a now liquidated (that word again) company called FAFI Football Agency Financial Services SA. It’s a tenuous link between football, the Swiss address and the British Virgin Islands. Maybe they met sipping a Pina Colada and gazing into the azure waters of the Caribbean.

    What of the BVI? Well Liberty Capital are registered C/O Walkers the global firm. Working for their BVI office is Oliver Clifton, who previously served in the chambers of Roger Ellis QC as a commercial and property litigator. Is Roger Ellis related to Andrew Ellis, the property developer? It’s a tenuous (that might be too strong a word) link between Whyte, Ellis and property.

    Also at Walkers and Managing Partner of the Insolvency and Corporate Recovery Group is Sandie Corbett. I can’t find any real link between her and Whyte but she sounds Scottish and her face reminded me of his. It would be amusing if they were related (I doubt they are).

    This is good fun

  16. jocky bhoy

    Gotta love these hooped bloodhounds sniffing all over the interweb, especially the internet archives…

    Makes you wonder how anybody could ever FULLY delete any information (other than the Scottish Government of course…).

  17. gopaul

    duff have bought “rangers fc” from google adwords…

    so searching for “rangers fc” hits them first ?

  18. Andy Watt

    All of this is only important to Rangers and their support in my eyes.
    I am more interested in the likely outcome of the big tax case.
    If Rangers win that,then they are in very good financial health.

    Any word on how likely they are to win or lose the big tax case?

  19. micpc

    Not suggesting that its the same one but there is a certain irony in Dave Smith involvement. It was one Dave Smith, London deal maker who was central to Celtic’s downfall back in 94. He was the one who made up the lie about the Swiss Bank financing Cambuslang

  20. Pingback: Craig Whyte’s Statement – 21st February – Is It “Wholly Unreliable?” | Random Thoughts Re Scots Law

  21. Ciaran

    Just been doing my own little bit of background research and I found a funny little coincidence.

    Back in 2008 an “international consortium” headed by Paul Davies and Scott Hume were involved in talks with the Administrator to bail out Gretna, the talks however failed and the club went into liquidation.

    At the time of negotiations Davies and Hume had their office in 65 Bath Street, Glasgow. At the same time a certain Mr Craig Whyte/White based his Liberty Corporate and Tixway businesses in…65 Bath Street, Glasgow.

    Just my own little theory but I wonder if the “international consortium” had anything to do with a certain Monaco based billionaire who was based at the same address as them. Did Whyte/White try and fail to acquire Gretna back in 2008, fronted by these guys, only to succeed by himself with Rangers a few years later?

    One final little twist to the tale: Scott Hume is currently the agent of Allan McGregor, who just happened to get a nice new contract almost immediately after Whyte/White took over.

  22. Pingback: kenibhoy | Pearltrees

  23. thomas power

    who gives a shit,scottish football is of no interest to anyone outwith scotland………

  24. itsmee

    For David Smith think Day of The Jackal.

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