The year before Li Ka-shing began acquiring Husky Energy (TSX:HSE) and two years before he won the bid to develop the former Expo 86 site in Vancouver, a company headed by the Hong Kong tycoon was incorporated in Panama.
The agent involved in the transaction was Mossack Fonseca, the law firm that is the subject of the massive Panama Papers leak made public by the International Consortium of Investigate Journalists (ICIJ).
ICIJ revealed how individuals and companies from around the world have, for legal or illicit reasons, incorporated offshore companies to lessen their tax burden.
A search of the Sunday Times’ Panama Papers database found the October 22, 1986, filing by Bowen Enterprises S.A. It lists Li as president, his sons Richard and Victor as directors and Ezra Pau Yee Wan as secretary. The Bowen Enterprises registration says the company was dissolved on June 24, 2013. The filing does not say what the company’s purpose was. Representatives for Li have not responded to a Business in Vancouver request for comment.
Li’s $320 million bid for the North False Creek lands was chosen by the B.C. Social Credit government in 1988, and his Concord Pacific set out to develop condominium towers around False Creek’s north shore. The company was sold in 1992 to Terry Hui.
Li is the majority owner of Calgary-based Husky. He was once the biggest individual shareholder in CIBC (TSX:CM), but sold his $1.2 billion stake in 2005 through L.F. Investments (Barbados) Ltd. to establish the Li Ka-shing (Canada) Foundation.
Victor and Richard Li both hold Canadian passports. Victor Li is managing director of CK Hutchison Holdings, the 2015-merger of his father’s Cheung Keung and Hutchison Whampoa companies. CK Hutchison was incorporated in the Cayman Islands but is registered and listed in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, a former Port Alberni helicopter logging pilot who moved to Costa Rica with his family is also named in the database.
Philip Jarman is the president of the June 2, 2000-incorporated Leber Action Corp. His wife, Mary Belle Jarman, is listed as a director and the secretary is Christian White Hernandez, the husband of the Jarmans’ daughter, Angela.
Philip Jarman is also a director of Midnight Train Corp. and president of Vinculum S.A. and Alfa Trade Group Inc. All three were incorporated in 2001.
In 2006, Jarman and Heli Tech Services (Canada) Ltd. sued nine companies, including Weyerhaeuser (NYSE:WY) and International Forest Products, for patent infringement over a system Jarman claimed to have developed for logging of old-growth trees.
In 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal of a 2011 Federal Court of Appeal decision on the case and awarded costs to the logging companies.
Jarman founded the Voyageur Foundation investing club, but the investors, mainly from Alberta and Quebec, lost $65 million in an alleged Ponzi scheme. In 2011, both Quebec and Alberta securities commissions issued cease trade orders against Voyageur, Jarman, Yves Godin, Gerard Reid and Claude Tremblay.
Jarman has not responded to a BIV request for comment.
The database also includes a list of companies with local names, suggesting Mossack Fonseca’s principals at least had an affinity for Canada and the west coast.
The names include Vancouver Properties S.A., Burrard Holdings Inc., Seymour Ventures Inc., Granville Trading Inc., White Rock Enterprises S.A., CDN Caninvest (Canada) Inc., Anglo Canadian Investment Corp., CIIB Canada Corp., Credit Canadian Gelman Corp. and Canadian International Immigration Bureau Corp.
For example, Vancouver Properties S.A. was incorporated on March 26, 2004, and dissolved on December 13, 2007. Who controlled the company is not known. Francis Perez was listed as the president and Ivette Rogers a director, but both were staff members at Mossack Fonseca.
Canadian International Immigration Bureau Corp. was incorporated on March 3, 2006, with Gaston Queirolo as president, but it was dissolved on September 4, 2013. CIIB Canada Corp. is the most recent listing. It was incorporated on November 25, 2008, with Queirolo also as president.
The registrations for the Burrard, Seymour and Granville companies list Jurgen Mossack, the law firm’s partner, as the agent and/or director.
In 1998 and 1999, Mossack Fonseca had an office in the MacMillan Bloedel building on West Georgia. Frederick L. Sharp was the director.
A website for Mossack Fonseca’s Hong Kong office shows a listing for a Vancouver office in a building at 1100 Melville Street. The company name is not included on the outgoing voice mail system, but a Fred Sharp is on the system’s directory.