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Tony Caplin: fraudster

Reports from the Daily Mail about Tony Caplin (aka Anthony Caplin), the bankrupt crony of UK's Prime Minister David Cameron's father who was put in charge of a £60-billion-budget quango, raised a few alarms in London. The man himself was immediately sacked from his role in charge of the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB), described by the Daily Mail as a "Treasury body responsible for £60 billion worth of loans for  infrastructure projects including homes, schools, hospitals, rail and roads". In general, the London press is yet to catch up with Caplin, although the Daily Mail seems to have him figured. In 2011, I exposed Caplin as party to a scam involving a $2 billion, sovereign bond from Venezuela. I even alerted (to no avail) the UK's Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Services Authority. The Daily Mail incorrectly reported in its exposé that what I had posted in 2011 amounted to "unsubstantiated internet reports", ignoring a crucial fact: Caplin had admitted to be involved in the scam, as described in the documents I published.

But then The Independent's Oliver Wright added to the confusion, arguing, in a follow up article, that Caplin had been "victim of [a] $2 bn Venezuela bond scam". Without presenting a shred of new evidence, Wright based his article almost entirely on documents and information published by me back in 2011 (without attribution). Wright, in fact, contacted me, and asked me a number of questions about Caplin prior to publishing his "Exclusive". Just how did Wright arrive to the conclusion that Caplin is a "victim" is anyone's guess. However, thanks to readers' input and further research I can safely say that Caplin is anything but a victim, more of a consummated fraudster in fact.

The story starts back in 1999, when Caplin was made director (together with Sir Richard Needham) of a company called Intermediate Equity PLC (IEQ PLC). The joint was set up with the aim of providing capital to other companies, and was listed in London's AIM. Once public, it started raising money, which was then either stolen and/or mismanaged by Caplin and Needham and their relatives. In a fascinating book of intrigue, collusion, nepotism and conflict of interests (whose publication has given Needham and his legal counsel at Dawsons much cause for concern), Greg Smith (Caplin's largest victim at IEQ plc - losses in excess of £600,000) recounts the sordid story of how an empty shell (initial capital of £2 were never actually paid into IEQ plc bank account), got listed through deception by London's AIM (which failed to do due diligence on IEQ plc given names associated with it), raised millions of pounds from investors, to then spend it in sham investments to favour its directors, or close relatives: Needham's wife wired $750,000 out of IEQ plc accounts to their son's (Viscount Newry and Mourne) MadeforChina company; Caplin got £250,000 from Needham for a company he controlled, called 2020Me Limited...

Smith sued Caplin et al but lost, due to what appears to have been sheer inefficiency of his legal counsel (Jane Jales at the time with Marriot Harrison, since struck off according to Smith), who agreed -allegedly by mistake- to settle for £55,000 a lawsuit for £3 million. Smith's legal action, [IEQ PLC v. Sir Richard Needham, others, Case No. HC02-C00065, and IEQ PLC v. John Shaw, others, Case No. HC03-C01527], was brought against Sir Richard Needham, Anthony Caplin, John MacKay, John Shaw, Christopher Foster, Seymour Pierce Private Equity Limited, Jonathan Wright, EMCEE Nominees Limited and Memery Crystal Solicitors​.

The book sheds a new light on Caplin. A man who readily engages in such gross misconduct and blunt scheming can no longer be given the benefit of the doubt in my opinion. Stealing money from people seems to be Caplin's modus operandi. Furthermore, Caplin's admission to participation in the scam with fake Venezuelan bond proves that he is anything but repentant of previous actions. Life finally caught up with Caplin in 2012, when he was declared bankrupt. Maybe, it was just another way to escape from mounting obligations. Maybe irresponsible spending other people's money couldn't be sustained any longer. What is truly shocking, is that UK authorities have failed, time and again, to stop Caplin. In the era of instant access to information, UK watchdogs have not only failed victims in ensuring that public listed companies have the backing required, but have decidedly ignored warnings. 

David Cameron, related to this saga by way of appointing bankrupt Caplin to manage billions of public money, said a few days ago some words to the effect that nowadays Google searches can provide plenty of information. It is clear though, that neither Cameron, nor his government, make much use of Google prior to appointing cronies.