[UPDATED] UK authorities alerted about Tony Caplin in 2011

    English

    The Mail on Sunday published yesterday an article about Tony Caplin entitled "PM hired bankrupt crony to run £60billion quango: Tycoon put in charge of vast Treasury budget by his Tory friends is sacked after MoS probe." In short, David "we are all in this together" Cameron hired a man who had been been employed by his father, Ian, in a City firm called Panmure Gordon, and put him in charge of a £60 billion quango (for non Brits: "a semipublic administrative body outside the civil service but receiving financial support from the government, which makes senior appointments to it"). What David Cameron, and his officials, did not know, and was revealed by the Mail on Sunday, is that Tony Caplin was made bankrupt in 2012, and bankrupt people, well, they should not be anywhere near administration of public money.

    Understandably the scandal exploded in Cameron's face, and Caplin was forced to resign from his quasi governmental jobs. In addition to the bankruptcy in 2012, another example of impropriety revealed by the Mail on Sunday was the email sent by Iain Corby, another disgraced Tory operator, offering Caplin commissions on possible investments on "anything from £100m - £5bn to invest in UK infrastructure projects..."

    Talking about "infrastructure projects" long time readers of mine will have heard the name Tony Caplin before. In fact, I got documents in November 2011, about a $2bn bond that was purportedly given to Caplin by Venezuela's Central Bank, so that he could develop "humanitarian projects" in "North, Central and South America." Four days after publication of leaked documents, I posted an updated due to forgery claims and statements made by then President of Venezuela's Central Bank, Nelson Merentes, denying any involvement with Caplin, or his £2,000 Isle of Man shell company, Kellmar Ltd. But in the four days between original publication and update, I had been in touch with a journalist from the Wall Street Journal, who took an interest in my blog about Caplin. I called Caplin, and asked about his involvement, but did not get anything from him. However, Caplin did admit not only knowledge of documents but involvement in the plan as described in the documents to the WSJ, saying that he had been invited to participate by "a very distinguished law firm" from the US. 

    The law firm turned out to be little more than a lawyer and his briefcase. There were other actors apart from Caplin and his "very distinguished" lawyer named in the documents (Credit Suisse, a St Kitts & Nevis Ambassador, Kellmar Ltd), but none replied to requests for comments.

    In light of Caplin's admission and Merentes statements, I called / emailed the Serious Fraud Office, the Financial Services Authority and Isle of Man authorities, to alert about potential wrongdoing in late November 2011. Now the Mail on Sunday has revealed that Caplin was declared bankrupt in 2012. Where I depart from the Mail on Sunday exposé is in its claim about "unsubstantiated internet reports suggesting Isle of Man based firm Kellmar, run by  Mr Caplin, received a $2 billion charitable bond from the Central Bank of Venezuela." The reports were not unsubstantiated, as per Caplin very own admission to the WSJ journalist.

    I think this a bit of a vindication moment. In my exposing corruption in / about Venezuela, I have come to the realisation that, in general, UK and European authorities are entirely unaware and ignorant about what goes on in Venezuela. It couldn't be otherwise, of course. What's revealing is that warning calls are never heeded. It happened with Caplin, and with Hanson Asset Management, an obscure investment firm from London that "acquired" Venezuela's largest newspaper conglomerate, Cadena Capriles. It happened with Marcelo Barone Serra, another Venezuelan thug that had basically misappropriated millions of dollars from Paraguay and was / is happily operating in London despite having an INTERPOL's arrest warrant. Its happening in Spain, where Derwick is laundering lots of its ill gotten wealth, and with Juan Carlos Escotet's BANESCO, who's waiting to get approval from Brussels to acquire Novagalicia, and with Moris Beracha, up to his neck in Francisco Illarramendi's $500m + ponzi scheme and doing phenomenal business these days with Spain's Telefonica in Brazil. We know of Venezuelans setting up banks and investments firms in Switzerland and London, spending millions in properties, flying around in some of the world's most expensive jets... German media recently flagged another potentially huge scandal about Bundesdruckerei and its Venezuela representative, mind you the common denominator here is, unfortunately, Venezuela, its officials and "entrepreneurs" otherwise known as Boligarchs. 

    To be certain, there's nothing wrong in doing business, or being rich. What must be ascertained, alas it never is, is whether the wealth that funds such is legitimate, alas it never is...

    UPDATE 22 APR 2014, 07:14 GMT: journalists from The Times, Daily Mail and The Independent have been in touch, making enquiries about my Nov. 2011 posts about Caplin, wanting to know whether he did anything wrong / illegal in relation to the $2bn Venezuelan bond, and how had SFO and FSA reacted to my communications. When the issue of authenticity of documents leaked was raised, I communicated with fellow blogger Miguel Octavio, who happens to work in finance. It took him about a minute to realize that the bond that had allegedly been transferred "free and clear" to Caplin, couldn't have been. He even sent me a Bloomberg GRAB with information about holders of that bond at that time. While the documents turned out to be fake, Caplin's admission to a WSJ journalist that he had agreed to participate in the project, as described in documents, demonstrated that, at the very least, he was aware of the existence of those documents, as published in my blog. But more importantly, it revealed Caplin's intent to use what he should have known were forged documents to, purportedly, raise finance. Below my explanations / emails in that respect, as sent to them.

    Let's start with Caplin's former career, as head of Panmure Gordon.

    Do you think former head of a stockbroker firm from the City of London does not know that a government-issued bond can only be used as collateral by people / banks that have actually acquired parts of that bond?

    Do you think former head of a stockbroker firm from the City of London does not know that inactive brokers should not be trying to raise finance for totally unsecured projects on the other side of the world? 

    Do you think former head of a stockbroker firm from the City of London would normally agree -when holding official jobs at different UK institutions- to participate in a deal structured on the basis of documents whose authenticity could not be ascertained?

    Moving on, if Caplin had all those jobs -and others I am not aware of- why would he admit he had agreed to participate in such a thing, if there wasn't anything to be gained?

    I do believe Caplin was aware that the thing was a scam from the start. His reply along the lines of "I agreed to participate upon having been invited by a very distinguished law firm" goes a long way in explaining his approach, which could have been summed up as "let's give this thing a shot, and see what happens…"

    You ask what Caplin did wrong. As I understood from the docs, Caplin's role was to raise financing for the projects using the bond as collateral. His passport no (perhaps you can have it checked) is in one of the docs, along with some description of his track record. However, at the time of publishing, Caplin was no longer registered as active with FSA. Therefore the answer, IMO, could be found in the ethical responsibilities he had at the time from the different roles in various public bodies. Do senior positions at NHS, Public Works Loan Board, the Medical Research Council allow holders to undertake such activities? Does the FSA allow inactive individuals to raise finance for such projects?

    I did communicate with SFO about this, and with authorities in the Isle of Man, and I do think the British gov should have taken a proper look into this, considering that what was being peddled was an alleged $2 billion sovereign bond from BCV as collateral for some obscure health project, involving a bunch of dodgy people, and an individual (Caplin) -unregistered with FSA- with no track record in the Caribbean or Venezuela.

    Begin forwarded message:

    From: Alek Boyd <alek.boyd@gmail.com>
    Subject: Re: Information request
    Date: 24 November 2011 11:05:00 GMT
    To: +EIU <intelunit@sfo.gsi.gov.uk>

    Dear Micah,

    Thanks for your message.

    I have contacted the FSA, and they are aware of this situation.

    As per the this issue not falling within the remit of SFO, well, I don't what to say really. The person who is alleged to have received a sovereign bond, worth $2 billion, happens to be chairman of a NHS trust, is a commissioner of the Public Works Loan Board (related to HM Treasury it seems), and is also a member of the Medican Research Council.

    In any case, thanks for your message.

    Kind regards,
    Alek Boyd

    On 24 Nov 2011, at 11:00, +EIU wrote:

    Dear Mr Boyd,
     
    Thank you for contacting SFO Confidential.
     
    However, the SFO is not an advisory body and this matter does not fall within our remit.
     
    You may find some answers to your questions at http://www.fsa.gov.uk/Pages/Doing/Regulated/Approved/persons/faqs/index.... Further information can be obtained by contacting the Financial Services Authority (“FSA”) by calling 0845 606 1234 or by sending an email to consumerhelp@fsa.gov.uk
     
    Kind regards,
     
    Micah Coleman | Intelligence Officer | SFO | Elm House | 10-16 Elm Street | London | WC1X 0BJ | (+44) 020 7239 7388
     
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Alek Boyd [mailto:alek.boyd@gmail.com] 
    Sent: 21 November 2011 16:46
    To: +Confidential
    Subject: Information request
     
    To whom it may concern,
     
    Is it possible for an individual, who appears as INACTIVE in the FSA register, to be given full control of a large sum of money, in order to be used with total discretion as collateral to raise finance in the UK for projects overseas?
     
    If it is NOT possible, according to regulations, what sort of penalty would be imposed if it is demonstrated that said individual has misrepresented himself and has breached regulations?
     
    I should be grateful of you could let me know.
     
    Cordially,
    Alek Boyd
     
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    From: Alek Boyd <alek.boyd@gmail.com>
    Subject: Re: ISS10482065 Information request
    Date: 22 November 2011 15:43:34 GMT
    To: FCC <fcc@fsa.gov.uk>

    Dear Colley,

    many thanks for your message and links.

    Further to our conversation this morning I could see in your website that it states, quite explicitly, that individuals that are not registered as "approved person" must "still work for a regulated firm or an agent of a regulated firm if they want to do most types of investment, insurance and mortgage business."

    That being the case, I am hereby informing you about Anthony Lindsay Caplin, FSA no. AXC01538, who appears as inactive in your register, yet has received rights, free and clear, to use a sovereign bond from the Central Bank of Venezuela, worth $2 billion, as collateral to raise further capital for health projects in some CARICOM countries, North, Central and South America.

    I suspect Mr Caplin, given that he appears to be based in London and has a track record of involvement with financial firms in the City, will use, would have used, the UK stream of commerce and market for the activities he was commissioned to undertake, on behalf of Venezuela's Central Bank.

    If you wish, I can send the original pdf I received, which contains all the information.

    If you doubt what I am arguing, you can visit this link [http://alekboyd.blogspot.com/2011/11/tony-caplin-venezuela-2-billion-bon... and see the letters, the transfer, names, passport numbers, sovereign bond number, and other details relevant to the case.

    Needless to say that any and all information that I have in this respect, I am more than willing to share with you, and other relevant authorities.

    With best wishes,

    Alek Boyd
     

    On 22 Nov 2011, at 15:33, FCC wrote:

    Our Ref: .ISS10482065

    Dear Mr Boyd

    Further to our earlier conversation, please view the attached website links as requested. I have attached Authorisation and regulated activities Perimeter Guidance manual (PERG) Chapter 2 and Do I need to be authorised.

    * http://fsahandbook.info/FSA/html/handbook/PERG/2 

    * http://www.fsa.gov.uk/Pages/Doing/Do/index.shtml

    If there is information you would like to provide the FSA, you can email it to fcc@fsa.gov.uk. We will then submit this information to the appropriate department for their consideration.

    Yours sincerely

    Colley Wilson
    Customer Contact Centre
    Financial Services Authority
    Firm Helpline: 0845 606 9966
    www.fsa.gov.uk

    Let us know what you think of the service provided by the Customer Contact Centre by sending your comments to:  FCCFeedback@fsa.gov.uk

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    -----Original Message-----
    From:  alek.boyd@gmail.com
    Date Sent: 22/11/2011 08:28:59
    To: register@fsa.gov.uk
    Subject: RE: ISS10482065 Information request

    To whom it may concern,

    Is it possible for an individual, who appears as INACTIVE in your register, to be given full control of a large sum of money, in order to be used with total discretion as collateral to raise finance for projects? 

    If it is NOT possible, according to regulations, what sort of penalty would be imposed if it is demonstrated that said individual has misrepresented himself and has breached regulations?

    I should be grateful of you could let me know.

    Cordially,
    Alek Boyd
     

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