The Magnitsky Myth & Other Keys
to the Geopolitical Hoax of the Century – Page 2
Cycomm International Inc.’s a Canadian-listed stock play associated with Republic National Bank of New York when RNBoNY’s controlled by billionaire Edmond Safra – whom con-man Bill Browder, key generator of the Magnitsky myth, calls “my mentor and role model”.
Republic National Bank of New York – click thumbnail
for full-size image from 1993 Annual Report
As outlined on the previous page (1), Cycomm
began N.A. trading in 1986 as Sonartec North America Inc. (subsequently
changing its name to Sonatel Telecommunications Corp. and
then Cycomm) – on the Alberta Stock Exchange (ASE),
a junior trading wheel in the financial “Wild West”. Vaunted technology was vended to Cycomm
by Sonartec Ltd. – an entity listed in
In 1987, a major political scandal dubbed “WA Inc.” engulfed the 1971-registered Western Australia Teachers’ Credit Society and other Australian institutions exposing a raft of questionable dealings between characters in government and the private sector.
"The Royal Commission into Commercial Activities of Government and Other Matters" was established in WA in 1990. After 21 months of hearings the Commission concluded there'd been a level of corruption so high as to "place our government system at risk." Prominent community figures were jailed for a range of illicit conduct. Two WA Premiers, Labor’s Brian Burke and his predecessor, Liberal Raymond O’Connor, went to prison amidst the expulsion from power positions of what became known as Burke’s “sleaze team”.
Sonartec Ltd. shares were among those in the portfolio of the WA Teacher’s Credit Society. Not just teachers, but pensioners as well – via the WA State Superannuation Fund – and all taxpayer and citizens were the losers.
Sonartec, the Australian listing,
in turn was found to be holding a block of shares in the Canadian
Sonartec/Sonatel/Cycomm. Following the tanking of the
teacher’s society, The Globe and Mail’s Dan Westell
disclosed these 500,000 shares of Cycomm went to
International Investments (1983) Ltd. of
Unsecured loans of AU $28 million to Sonartec Ltd. director/promoter Robert Paul Martin were uncovered in review of the teacher’s society books. Losses from loans to Martin and three other major debtors proved critical factors in the collapse of the WA Teacher’s Credit Society in 1987. A government bailout of the society cost the people of WA AU $120 million.
“Improper” dealings between Len Brush, then Chairman of WA’s State Superannuation Board, and Robert Martin were revealed. At trial, Martin’s counsel argued that three sums of AU $50,000 each made by Martin to Brush were loans – not bribes. Soon after being found not guilty of paying off the fund manager, Martin was charged with illegally hacking private communications. Found guilty of phone-bugging a trial witness, in 1990 the land developer and sea-crab-pot entrepreneur was sentenced to three years in jail. (The same term was handed Martin’s co-conspirator, Robert Smith, a former policeman.)
"WA Inc." scandal exposes intersection of government and corporate malfeasance – The Canberra Times, Saturday, November 3, 1990
Around the globe Sonartec N.A. aka Sonatel aka
Cycomm buoyantly engaged in years of false and
misrepresentative public disclosures, making grossly unrealistic
projections and losing millions of real dollars along the way.
Cycomm’s executive HQ was located at
Highly-touted inventions of
Robert Martin and Dieter Blum sank to murky depths – their
scandalous provenance enshrined in a venture capital version of
Davy Jones’ locker. By the end of 1991, Cycomm’s publicly-stated
mission was voice privacy and encryption technologies.
Word from the
“street” to market regulators’ offices was of secretive deals with
the CIA and other
The group had dropped talk of revolutionizing commercial and recreational piscicapture. Still its corporate claims remained fishy. Of purported deals that were not top-secret, the company’s March 1992 “business plan” foretold of a GEC-Marconi-vended products marketplace that’d generate sales of more than $40 million by the end of 1994. In 1995 The Vancouver Sun disclosed that the outfit’s actual sales for this period from the arrangement amounted to just $200,000. Cycomm, whatever its status as a financial conduit and ‘paper play’, was a resounding bust as a business.
company’s stock initially listed on
Such a failed operational arc is not that exceptional for Canadian-listed “junior” stock plays of the era. Had Edmond Safra’s bank done its due diligence it’d not be business “fundamentals” that warranted joining the game. In the wake of Cycomm’s 1987 – 1991 history of fraudulent activities RNBoNY money-managers signed off on the purchase of two tranches of shares, (one in December ’91 and another in June ’92), placing the institution in mixed company of insiders and outsiders of many stripes – from associates, accomplices, to punters, dupes and victims – individual as well as institutional.
In October 1992, Michael Gillard, veteran investigative
journalist then with
Shares of Cycomm, and those of Rare Earth Resources Ltd.,
(a VSE-listing related by management and backers), were found
among those stashed in the portfolio of the West Midlands
Metropolitan Authorities Superannuation Fund – a pensioner’s
fund managed by the
The Royal Bank of
Scotland plc was drawn to Cycomm’s allure.
Dubious share purchases in
numerous “colourful” pubcos (public companies) held
by RB, and its Nassau, Bahamas-situated subsidiary,
Charterhouse Bank and Trust, were focus of an investigation by
Scotland on Sunday’s Euan Ferguson, whose findings were
published by SoS in a feature, “Crooks Grab Royal Mask”.
This “dodgy deals” scandal
blew up in the
Scottish “investment manager”
William Philip “Willie” McLucas was a “consultant”to the
MC Hammer's "Hammerpants", aka harem pants, a light moment for an iconic company, Simplicity, that endured dark days – driven near bankruptcy by corporate raiders
Another Cycomm player was Graham
Lacey’s trail of financial wreckage earned him notoriety in 1980s
by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office into the 1990 collapse of
London Stock Exchange-listed textiles-(Delmonte
found a great volume of sales of Polly Peck shares at
market-high-prices, for a mysterious client named Behcet T. Ali,
administered by an outfit called Rhone Finance –
transactions flowing through “letterbox companies” further
insulated by Switzerland’s privacy laws. In October of that year,
The SFO’s Polly Peck investigators zeroed in on trading via P.O. Box 423, 1215 Geneve - 15 Aeroport – letterbox entities, police say, set-up for Polly Peck transactions by Michael Morton Duncan Laidlaw, former exec-director of ‘City’ brokerage Giles & Overhury, aided by a Switzerland-based fiduciare, Roger A. Leopard.
Letterbox companies facilitated transactions in Polly Peck, Cycomm plus
Other letterbox companies,
beneficial owners concealed, using this same address included the
previously-noted International Investments (1983) Ltd. (which had
benefited from receipt of Cycomm stock at a fraction of its public market
valuation), Alpha Fund Management and Epsom Fund
Management. Related Epsom Investment Services NV dealt
through the airport P.O., as well as an addy in Netherland
Antilles. Roger Leopard was documented as officer of Rhone
Finance situated, The Sunday Times explained, in three
rooms of the World Trade Centre next to the
While the Polly Peck
fraud-theft-share-manipulation-and-more investigation was underway
in the early 1990s, documents filed with securities regulatory
By late ’93
(In 2004 – by which time VDL’s
control was in the hands of unlisted New Zealand entity Tasman
Farms – “The Age” reports approval was received to move
Tasman’s “dairy farming operations, which have no debt, into
The Van Diemen's Land Company, which is debt-heavy”. Now, in
2018, there are fears for the future of
After the mid-September 1990 raid by agents for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) on his management HQ in London’s Mayfair district, Polly Peck’s chief, Asil Nadir, went on the offensive – blaming authorities for his problems. British Conservative MP Michael Mates added to the controversy. With a criminal investigation underway Mates sent Nadir a birthday gift. Police found it in Nadir’s home – a watch engraved in Latin on its back: “Don’t let the buggers get your down”. Polly Peck donated £440,000 to UK's Tory party.
Nadir denied the charges against him and called
himself a victim of “gross prosecutorial misconduct of the gravest
kind”. Publicly blaming the SFO for the collapse of his corporate
domain, Nadir fled before his 1993 trial date. For the next 17
years his domicile was Turkish-controlled
The Observer's Michael Gillard delivers Polly Peck's letterbox post-mortem – May 9, 1993
Money managers at the
Wolverhampton Metropolitan Borough Council
purchased shares in letterbox-traded Polly Peck – saying they’re obliged by law to do so once it joined the
“The Financial Times Stock Exchange 100”. (FTSE 100,
aka the "Footsie", is a share index of those
LSE-listed companies with, collectively, the 100 largest
market capitalizations.) What compelled overseers of pension funds
for the people of
The WMBC’s Assistant Director of Finance, Keith Stout, “resigned his employment while… enquiries were ongoing”. The Council’s “former Conservative chairman, Mrs. Williams, left town in her socks,” notes her successor, Labor’s John McCallum. By 1992/’93 when Cycomm, Rare Earth and a sackful of Canadian “penny dreadfuls” were revealed in the Wolverhampton portfolio, it’s reported that the fund's Polly Peck holding, which cost pensioners “well into six figures, is valued at just 1p (a single pence)”.
Edmond Safra’s Republic National Bank of New York (RNBoNY) participated in two “private placement” tranches of Cycomm shares – first in late 1991, and, again, in mid-1992. Unique among Cycomm’s institutional placees, RNBoNY also shows up as a shareholder of Van Diemen’s Land Co., appearing in such role on the same date – in December 1993 – as does Graham Ferguson Lacey and Rhone Finance (of which Roger A. Leopard’s an officer, and neighbour to the Geneva Aiport Post Office Box 423).
Ahead in this series, the focus is less on such financial filigree and more on the corporate culture and community – introducing a colourful cross-section of those cast-members who keep the wheels in spin. Cycomm makes way for still more controversial, and public money-losing, dealings within RNBoNY’s orbit. Safra and "diamond tycoon" Beny Steinmetz bankroll+ Moscow operations – planting the seed for Bill Browder and team to propagate a fantastic myth.
– "Give me a
fact." Con-man Bill Browder fails to find cover
Under-oath #2 – "Give me a fact." Con-man Bill Browder fails to find cover in court