BELIZE CITY, Wed. Oct. 6, 2021– Belize has been listed as a prime tax haven and secrecy jurisdiction in the Pandora Papers released this past Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and Washington Post. A prominent Belizean lawyer and corporate services facilitator, Glenn Godfrey, was named in those documents as a key player in the setting up of offshore facilities for clients in the US.
The documents suggest that companies, trusts, bank accounts, and other instruments to facilitate the low-cost formation of International Business Companies (IBC)’s and exemption from various taxes were supposedly created by CILTrust, now called CitiTrust International Inc., a Glenn Godfrey company, for persons of disrepute in the US who are believed to have been engaged in shady dealings and illegal activity.
Yesterday, Will Fitzgibbon, one of the writers of the exposé published on Monday, October 4, on the ICIJ’s website told the host of the Wake Up Belize (WUB) morning show, Evan “Mose” Hyde, during an interview that these revelations only scratch the surface of what is to be revealed about the offshore dealings being carried out in Belize.
He indicated that, while the information published so far casts the spotlight primarily on the business transactions of just one Belizean company (Glenn Godfrey’s firm), more revelations on other offshore providers in Belize could come to light, as deeper research is carried out into the data contained in the papers.
In the article titled, “Rogue Americans shielded money offshore, eluding victims and criminal investigators”, published by the ICIJ, a number of controversial allegations are made against Godfrey’s law firm, Glenn D. Godfrey & Co. LLP, and his corporate service company, CILTrust — mainly purporting that the former had set up shell companies and accounts and trusts to move wealth from the United States and other jurisdictions to a tax-free “safe house”, Belize.
The persons for whom such services were reportedly provided have, and in some cases are, in the midst of civil and criminal legal disputes within the United States, with some of these individuals having already been convicted, while others have absconded.
Specifically, the reports published by the ICIJ, based on data gathered from within the 11.9 million documents in the Pandora Papers, claim that Godfrey’s CILTrust created a trust instrument for one Mark Collins-Rector, a convicted sex offender and fugitive.
Collins-Rector reportedly created a trust while in the middle of a civil dispute with a family whose son had fallen ill as a result of his excessive use of drugs and alcohol, either while in Rector’s company, or due to the sexual trauma he suffered at Rector’s hands. Rector was found guilty, but so far no damages have been paid to the claimants.
Rector is just one of the US citizens referenced in the reports who had problems with the law and allegedly used Belize as a safe repository for their wealth — protecting it from their country’s taxes or court-ordered payments of judgment awards.
In 2004, the Belize Anti-Drug Unit arrested one Jared Wheat in the Data Pro EPZ Park at the Burrell Boom junction, which was created, and believed to be funded, by Godfrey and his wife, Joy, in the early 2000s. Wheat, the owner of Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, was found with almost 300 pills, said to be Ecstasy, on the Data Pro compound. It was later discovered that the pills were adulterated and unapproved body supplements created by his company and sold through a Belizean shell company online. The local charges against Wheat in Belize were dropped due to a lack of evidence, but the US State Department pursued the case, and he was convicted and sentenced to 50 months in prison and fined $50,000.
In 2017 he was arrested and indicted by the US Federal Government on charges of manufacturing and distributing controlled substances, in addition to charges of fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy. It is believed that Wheat held close ties with Godfrey’s firm at the start of his career. Having already made millions and being denied approval to market his supplement within the US, he looked into other options and found Belize.
Another US national, billionaire Robert Smith, recently settled with US prosecutors after setting up a trust which reportedly facilitated the evasion of millions of dollars in US taxes. The ICIJ documents again point to CILTrust as the entity which established the instrument that enabled Smith to do this. Smith was not charged.
His lawyer, however, Carlos Kepke is said to have made claims that Smith maintains a false paper trail to conceal assets. He has since been indicted on charges of conspiring to defraud the United States. Godfrey’s firm was mentioned reportedly 20 times in the indictment.
Another shady US national who allegedly was assisted by Godfrey’s firm in the setting up of a trust is Robert Durst, a former mob associate who in September was convicted for the execution-style murder of a former friend. Durst, an associate of the Colombo crime family and a real estate mogul in New York, is said to have set up a trust in Belize using the services of CILTrust. In a video message released by Glenn Godfrey on Monday evening, however, he denied ever having the convicted murderer as a client.
“We maintain that our firm never had as a client, the individual in question. Our due diligence was completed to ensure that we never served the client in the capacity alleged by the media report in question,” Godfrey insisted.
In his message, Godfrey stated that he has written to the ICIJ to demand a full apology.
“We have written to the consortium seeking a complete retraction of all its references and reports in relation to my person and Glenn D Godfrey as a legal firm. The report is seriously defamatory and has to cause irreplicable damage to my person and the legal firm’s reputation. Should the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists refuse to accede to our demand, we will seek legal redress,” Godfrey said.
It must be noted that neither Godfrey nor CILTrust has ever been charged with any wrongdoing related to business that has been conducted.
During the period in which he served as a PUP minister of government and attorney general of the country in the early 1990’s, Godfrey is said to have played an important role in the creation of modern offshore company laws. For a number of years, the country was cited as being reluctant to help in investigations of fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion cases being conducted by foreign jurisdictions.
The ICIJ’s Pandora Papers article on Belize’s offshore activity can be found at https://www.icij.org/investigations/pandora-papers/belize-american-offshore-glenn-godfrey-law-firm/.