As the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) continues to publicize its reports under the series named “Pandora Papers”, our firm believes it is important to set the record straight on critical matters misrepresented by the report.
With that in mind, we have assembled a set of frequently asked questions that seeks to give a full appreciation of our business and operations of the offshore sector within which we operate. Indeed, Glenn D. Godfrey and CILTrust are not the only firms operating in Belize’s offshore sector. It is unfortunate that our firm of almost 50 years of service finds itself maligned and unfairly positioned in relation to the matters at hand.
As we have stated previously, we pride ourselves in compliance to the spirit and letter of all applicable legislations. Our business portfolio complies with best practices and are representative of legal and accounting firms in good standing in their relevant jurisdictions. Our due diligence meets all legal requisites and includes our own as well as the due diligence of the legal and accounting firm intermediaries.
We regret that the ICIJ report while pursuing noble intent, pursued it in a fashion that employed threats, heavy handed bullying and refusal to peruse the matter with legal and journalistic professional ethical guidelines. The report hid details and shielded entities resident in the US jurisdiction that were the legal and accounting representatives of the individuals and matters in question. The report chose to attack international agencies, while refusing to establish the international regime for the business sector during the time period of concern. The ICIJ purports to be a representation of a consortium of professional journalists but employed unethical practices in its research, reporting and communications with our firm. The ICIJ maligned a professional business sector in a developing market jurisdiction that has met all demands by international agencies and first world governments to tighten the management and compliance of the offshore sector.
In the case of our firm and jurisdiction, the ICIJ sought to disparage our very country, people and our socio-economic strata. The ICIJ has casted unfounded accusations, allegations supported by no fact – merely its innuendos and unethical reporting and caricaturing of professional firms, like ours, that have not engaged in any criminality throughout its years of operations – neither nationally nor internationally.
Kindly find full details of our processes below in the form of Frequently Asked Questions.
GLENN D. GODFREY CO. LLP: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- What services does Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust provide?
Our Law Firm provides a range of corporate secretarial, administration and financial planning solutions. We are widely recognized as a top-tier law firm in our jurisdiction and in most of our main practice areas. We deliver the broadest range of structuring alternatives involving corporate vehicles such as companies, partnerships, and foundations. Whether it is for international structuring requirements or fiscal planning, our team of experienced professionals is able to provide full company management services, fiduciary management, and accounting and legal support services. In particular: corporate and commercial law, intellectual property, real estate, admiralty and shipping, immigration, banking and finance, business development, probate and insurance
- Have Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust faced any legal proceedings related to the service provided?
No. Since our establishment in 1979, we have never faced any charges related to improper activities, nor have we been convicted of any type of illegal activity in the jurisdictions in which we operate.
- In the cases mentioned in the ICIJ investigation, have Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust failed to comply with the processes established by the law?
No. Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust have always acted in compliance with existing legislation in the jurisdictions in which we operate. Our internal audit found no evidence of non-compliance in any of the cases mentioned by the ICIJ. We reject any insinuation of regulatory non-compliance; for the almost 50 years we have been subject to supervision by regulators in different jurisdictions, with satisfactory results. We have always cooperated with foreign authorities when requested and have done so in many cases. As is the case with our numerous cooperation with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and our local government authorities. We have even been called upon to and cooperatively testified in US courts peripherally related to some of the very matters and persons that have been mentioned in the report. The report failed and continues to fail in highlighting such. Even as in one instance the report mentioned receiving information from pages of court documents, it failed to note that our firm/company were the ones that cooperated with those authorities.
- What is the Regulatory Compliance and Due Diligence process to be followed when incorporating a company?
Currently, the laws in force in each of the jurisdictions in which we operate require us to identify the beneficial owner of each company, a requirement that we fully comply with. Under previous laws, however, when the Resident Agent received a request through a professional client (bank, other law firms, accounting firms, etc.), the Agent could rely on the identification and processes performed by such professional client. The information was to be provided to the Agent upon request. This procedure was embodied in a written agreement between the parties.
- Why does the questionnaire imply that the firm did not perform due diligence or supervision of its clients?
The questionnaire submitted by the ICIJ is riddled with inaccurate and outdated information that projects an unfair and negative image of the firm’s activities. In some cases, the persons mentioned were never our clients. In other cases, the companies indicated were not incorporated by Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust. It is important to note that ICIJ deliberately utilized current due diligence requirements, extrapolating such and applying to cases or situations that occurred prior to the entry into force of these current due diligence laws. The ICIJ report has ignored what was the regulatory regime for the time period of its matters and cases and in so doing misrepresented not only the matters but cast a black eye on an entire international sector, jurisdictions and firms operating in the sector. This must be highlighted as bad journalistic ethics and unfairness if not illegal – libelous and/or slanderous. It must be noted that we have always applied to any and all legal requirements and best practices for our sector and operations. It is a matter of commitment that we have modernized and updated our practices and requirements as the sector has been updated and reformed nationally, regionally and internationally.
• None of the persons mentioned in the report were clients of ours.
• We never met them or dealt directly with them.
• Our direct clients were (US) Prominent Law Firms and Accounting Firms and not any of the individuals
mentioned in that report.
• According to the regulatory and legal regime at the time of 1996 to about 2003, it was never our responsibility to perform due diligence checks on the clients of our clients. In light of the above, we highlight that ICIJ should and must have been aware of the regulatory regime applicable to the matters of the time period covered by its report. We can only believe that ICIJ willfully chose to ignore that fact, just as it ignored revealing the US based Legal and Accounting Firms that actually represented these individuals of concern. ICIJ in doing so chose to protect US based Legal and Accounting Law Firms that did business with these individuals in question. (Please note that one letter from and to such a US based firm was shown in the video report… the letter is our firm’s very communication inquiring into the due diligence and reputation of the business interests and requests being made on our firm).
- What is the process followed at Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust to comply with Due Diligence?
Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust have a rigorous Due Diligence process that follows not only the laws in force in each jurisdiction in which we operate, but also the recommendations of international organizations. Our internal policies take into account the appropriate identification of clients and beneficial owners, and factors such as their geographic location, professional activity, track record and reputation. We also consider the activities that would be carried out by the requested company. Due diligence processes are carried out on an ongoing basis throughout the duration of the professional relationship.
- What happens if an authority requests information from Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust?
Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust fully cooperate with the authorities. Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust have always cooperated immediately, proactively and effectively with any request from the competent authorities (regulators, supervisors, judicial, tax, or any other authorities), and these entities can attest to this.
- What is the procedure followed by Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust when it detects adverse information about a company?
When Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust detect adverse information about a company, we proceed as established in our internal policies. We require clients to provide more information so that our compliance department can perform a risk assessment. Subsequently, the Compliance Officer evaluates the case and if deemed appropriate, a report is filed with the competent authority and/or we resign as Resident Agent of the respective company.
- When does Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust make a report to the authorities?
In compliance with current laws, a report is made in cases where we suspect that the client is involved in money laundering, terrorist financing or other illicit activities, or when we are unable to secure the client’s full cooperation in terms of requests for additional information.
- Have Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust been penalized for not resigning from a company?
In its almost 50 years of operation, Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust have never been reprimanded or fined by any judicial or administrative authority for not resigning as Resident Agents of an entity.
- On what basis does Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust resign as Resident Agent of an entity?
The decision to resign as a resident agent of a company follows, by virtue of the law, a risk-based approach. We resign in cases where we suspect that the client is involved in money laundering, terrorist financing or other illicit activities; where we are unable to secure the client’s full cooperation in terms of requests for additional information; or if we are unable to carry out regular, or enhanced as the case may require, client due diligence with respect to the beneficial owner.
- What is Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust role as Resident Agent of a company?
Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust role within a company is that of any Resident Agent. We are in charge of making the payment of the necessary fees for the company to continue in good standing, we carry out a continuous due diligence process, we receive notifications (when applicable), among other functions established by law. The services we provide in connection with our companies are exclusively of a legal and corporate nature. We do not provide financial services or tax advice in connection with our international corporate services.
- Why didn’t Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP and CILTrust answer the questions related to its clients?
The various applicable laws on confidentiality and professional ethics prohibit us from disclosing any information related to the beneficiaries and shareholders of the entities for which we act as Resident Agent or our clients. This type of sensitive information can only be shared at the request of the competent authority.