Ar­rested Kiwi trans­ferred as­sets

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

A Kiwi banker trans­ferred $2 mil­lion worth of Christchurch prop­erty to a trustee firm in the lead up to his ar­rest for al­legedly or­ches­trat­ing a multi-bil­lion dol­lar cor­rup­tion scan­dal.

For­mer Credit Suisse banker An­drew James Pearse and two for­mer col­leagues were ar­rested in Lon­don on Thurs­day af­ter be­ing charged in New York with de­fraud­ing in­vestors.

The three now face ex­tra­di­tion to the US af­ter an in­dict­ment, filed by pros­e­cu­tors in New York, al­leged the bankers helped Mozam­bique of­fi­cials take on large debts for legally du­bi­ous projects.

The scan­dal has been sim­mer­ing away for years with in­ter­na­tional me­dia re­ports from as far back as 2016 al­leg­ing Pearse was cen­tral to help­ing send Mozam­bique, one of the poor­est coun­tries in the world, to the brink of bank­ruptcy by tak­ing on debts it could not af­ford.

The 2015 Panama Pa­pers first linked Pearse to a res­i­den­tial ad­dress in Belfast, Christchurch which had a 2016 CV of $440,000.

New Zea­land prop­erty records show Pearse also owned a house in the Christchurch sub­urb of Merivale with a 2016 CV of $1.4 mil­lion.

Pearse trans­ferred the ti­tle of the prop­er­ties in 2017.

Both prop­er­ties are now coowned by a com­pany with the same ini­tials as Pearse, called AJP Trustee Ser­vices. The prop­er­ties are co-owned by an in­di­vid­ual named Nicola Frances Bell.

Bell is also a di­rec­tor of AJP Trustee Ser­vices with Anna Fox. Bell is also the sole share­holder of AJP Trustee Ser­vices and her reg­is­tered ad­dress is the Merivale prop­erty.

AJP Trustee Ser­vices has a reg­is­tered ad­dress at Christchurch law firm Saun­ders Robin­son Brown, where Fox works as man­ag­ing part­ner.

Fox de­clined to com­ment and would not con­firm or deny whether she knew Pearse. Stuff was un­able to con­tact Bell.

Pearse was the head of Credit Suisse’s Global Fi­nanc­ing Group un­til about Septem­ber 2013, but around April that year al­legedly started set­ting up sub­sidiaries with in­ter­na­tional naval con­struc­tion firm Priv­in­vest Group.

Sub­sidiaries of Priv­in­vest have been widely re­ported as pri­mary sup­pli­ers to Mozam­bi­can firms which were is­sued bil­lions of dol­lars in loans from Credit Suisse.

The Panama Pa­pers show Pearse was a share­holder of Palo­mar Hold­ings and Palo­mar En­ergy Hold­ings, both reg­is­tered to tax haven the British Vir­gin Is­lands.

The US charges fo­cus on deals from sev­eral years ago that al­lowed Mozam­bique to bor­row US$2B (NZ$2.96B) for mar­itime projects and coast­line pro­tec­tion, the in­dict­ment said. At least US$200M of the funds were di­verted for bribes and kick­backs, pros­e­cu­tors said.

US pros­e­cu­tors ac­cused the bank­ing trio of with­hold­ing in­for­ma­tion from Credit Suisse’s com­pli­ance staff. All three were re­leased on bail in Lon­don.

Zi­ta­mar.com, a news web­site ded­i­cated to cov­er­ing Mozam­bique is­sues, re­ported in May 2016 that Pearse helped two com­pa­nies owned by Mozam­bique’s se­cret ser­vice bor­row US$1.47B, which threat­ened to bank­rupt the coun­try af­ter it strug­gled to keep up with re­pay­ments.

Credit Suisse was not named as a de­fen­dant in the in­dict­ment.

United King­dom com­pa­nies records show an An­drew James Pearse of New Zea­land is 49 years old and had ap­point­ments at three com­pa­nies while liv­ing in the UK.

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