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ICIJ Bahamas leaks - director says he did not hold public post at the time

Updated - Adds reaction from Joe Grioli - A number of Maltese individuals and companies are linked to a new cache of leaked documents containing information on 175,000 firms registered in the Bahamas between 1990 and 2016.

The name of Joe Grioli, who held a number of public roles under previous administrations, shows up as director of the Bahamas company Britannia Consultants, together with Jeanne Borg.

Mr Grioli became a director of the company, which used to be called Whitesail Investment Corp, in January 2000.

Britannia Consultants had a share capital of $50,000 and was moved to the Bahamas in 2006 by the Panama firm Mossack Fonseca, according to the leaked document the Times of Malta cross-referenced with the Panama Papers.

Mr Grioli was director of the Malta Development Corporation, the Malta Export Trade Corporation and the Malta Council for Economic Development, and chaired the board of a number of troubled government-owned Maltese companies under the previous administration.

When contacted, Mr Grioli said Britannia Consultants was not his company. Asked who he was representing as a director of the company, he declined giving details.

He later pointed out that he resigned his last public post - chairman/director of Maltapost - on November 30, 2004.

He was appointed director of Britannia Consultants Ltd in the Bahamas on March 31, 2006.

He was not a director of the Bahamas company when he was performing public duties in Malta.

The documents were leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its media partners, including the Times of Malta.

Vladimir Peftiev, a Belarus oligarch whose business activities were hit by EU sanctions, is registered as a director of three Bahamas companies, the leaked documents show.

The leaked document from the Bahamas showing the names of Joe Grioli and Jeanne Borg.The leaked document from the Bahamas showing the names of Joe Grioli and Jeanne Borg.

A Malta address is listed for them. He shows up as a director of the companies Investment Management Group between 1997 and 2005, NTA between 1997 and 2003 and VVK Investments between 1997 and 2011.

Mr Peftiev’s partner, Olga Makarova, still appears as a director of the latter company, with a Sliema-registered address.

According to leaked US diplomatic cables, Mr Peftiev is a close associate of Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

Mr Peftiev’s wealth is estimated to be close to $1 billion. Ms Makarova shows up in the Panama Papers as being a shareholder and beneficiary of several offshore companies that were mainly set up from 2007 to 2013.

The EU instructed all member states to freeze Mr Peftiev’s assets when he was hit with sanctions.

US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks speculated that Mr Peftiev “no longer maintained business dealings or bank accounts in Malta”.

Oil giant ExxonMobil set up a company called ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Malta as part of an apparent strategy of setting up Bahamas companies for various countries.

Another company, Malta Investment Fund Ltd, was set up in March 2013 by intermediaries Trident Trust (Bahamas) and Fregon Corporation.

It has authorised capital of $5 million. Trident Trust has a Malta office, though the exact links with the investment fund, if any, are not clear.

The ICIJ and its media partners said yesterday that former European commissioner Neelie Kroes had an undeclared directorship in a Bahamas company

Ms Kroes was listed as director of a Bahamian company from 2000 to 2009.

Through a lawyer, she told ICIJ and media partners that she did not declare her directorship of the company because it was never operational. Her lawyer blamed her presence in company records as “a clerical oversight which was not corrected until 2009”.

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