Box 438, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. The name conjures a sleepy mail drop. It’s actually an office in a stuccoed building in Tortola’s banking district where agents assist companies hoping to incorporate or set up trusts in a tax-friendly jurisdiction. Box 438 is just one of 100 such providers in the B.V.I., but it has a pedigree sure to stimulate conspiracy theorists.
Some of those who use it:
- S.E.C. records indicate that Box 438 has been used by North American Resources Group Limited, a major shareholder in Harken Energy, the Texas company that purchased President George W. Bush’s failing oil-drilling venture in the 1980s, making him a wealthy man.
- In 1997, according to real-estate records and the corporate database of the Wyoming secretary of state’s office, Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynne, bought their family home in Jackson, Wyoming, from a Box 438 entity, which had bought it from the director of a Box 438 entity, who had bought it from another Box 438 entity.
- Scottish Rugby star Bill Gammell’s CEH Australia Ltd., an oil-and-gas company, has used Box 438. Sir Bill, who counts Tony Blair and George W. as friends, was once married to Geraldine Gammell, who directed Prince Charles’s Trust in Scotland.
- Chaarat Gold Holdings Ltd. uses Box 438. Chaarat’s non-executive chairman Christopher David Palmer-Tomkinson is distantly related to Queen Elizabeth II and is a lifelong friend of Prince Charles’s.
- Israeli diamond-and-copper magnate Dan Gertler has used Box 438. And he has reportedly dealt on occasion with Central Asian billionaires Alijan Ibragimov, Alexander Mashkevich, and Patokh Chodiev. Firms connected with the trio have used Box 438 for subsidiaries with such James Bondian names as Blue Narcissus and Highwind Properties.
- Pan American Energy Holdings (P.A.E.H.), until recently a BP subsidiary, was registered in care of Equity Trust, Box 438. P.A.E.H. is now fully owned by Bridas, an oil-and-gas giant developed by Carlos and Alejandro Bulgheroni, the wealthiest men in Argentina. When Bridas took an ownership stake in the American company Allis-Chalmers Energy, they registered it at—where else?—Box 438.
- The Web site for the BVI Financial Services Commission (“vigilance, integrity, accountability”) directs firms hoping to register via Box 438 to contact managing director Mrs. Linda Romney-Leue, a registered financial agent on the island. Another agent in her office insists Mrs. Romney-Leue is no relation to Mitt—“Linda is born and bred here. Romney is a very well-known name on the island.”
Read the whole story: Vanity Fair