Sunday 21 July 2013

Who does SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd protect

“The aim of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (the Regulations) is to detect, deter and disrupt financial crime and terrorist financing by reducing the possibility of legitimate businesses being used for money laundering or terrorist financing.”  From The Office of Fair Trading website. 

The whole point of adhering to this and the Proceeds of Crime Act is not to say that criminal activity IS taking place it is to DETER it, however if information comes forward at a later stage, then identifying what has transpired becomes easier for the Authorities.

What transpired within the Pleasurama debacle between Thanet Council and Shaun Keegan is a case in point and best explained using the “Horse and Cart” analogy. I have correspondence from TDC that indicates that they are dealing only with a UK based and registered Ltd Company, that much is true, however that is not the entire truth and the order of events and why they occurred is important in understanding what transpired.
 December 2002 Terry Painter stated “Shaun Keegan is the Project Manager of SFP Venture Partners (an overseas company)”, the beneficial ownership of this company wasn’t known at the time and only came to light in September 2008.
2008 “SFP Venture Partners is owned 100% by SFP Services”. This company is registered in Geneva and the general manager is Colin Hill. Who the ultimate beneficial owner is remains unclear. This company had the £1M that was paid through SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd so has to be connected.

In 2006, prior to the 1st agreement being signed, Shaun Keegan incorporated SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd. The effect of this greatly helped TDC in their dealings with Shaun Keegan as it does several things. 

Firstly it allowed TDC to say they were dealing with a properly constituted legal entity registered in the United Kingdom, something that up to then garnered a great deal of criticism from the public. 

Secondly it enabled them to do some “due diligence” which was extremely difficult with a company registered overseas. 

Thirdly Shaun Keegan would normally have had to identify himself especially as he is the figurehead for the developers; the incorporation of a UK company has allowed the focus to be placed on the UK Company alone. A search of the Electoral Records for the UK has him on the voters list in Essex up to 2002 then he disappears.
In view of the monies being channeled through the UK registered Company in 2009 from SFP Services in Geneva one wonders just why it mattered to either Shaun Keegan or the Council to have a UK registered company as Keegan could just as easily have set up another Geneva based company to develop Pleasurama and it makes you wonder on whose behalf the UK based company was set up. 

Why identify the party you are dealing with:

The Home Office estimates that serious organised crime in the UK generates approximately £20 billion a year. Purchasing property in the UK and overseas continues to be a common method used by serious organised criminals to launder the proceeds of criminal activity. The advantage of doing so is that large amounts of criminal funds can be ‘cleaned’ in a single transaction.

 This equally applies to Estate agents and Councils selling Freehold/Leasehold Property or Freehold/Leasehold Land. 

What to look for (or what not to do)

Knowing your customer 

By exercising due diligence in taking steps to inspect and verify client identity documents, you may
identify anomalies.
Examples include:
•  Use of false documentation
•  Reluctance to provide personal details
•  Doubts about the source of client funds
•  Refusal to provide the requisite proof of identification or residence
•  Inconsistencies in documentation such as anomalies in dates photographs or signatures

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Due Diligence - what does this mean?

In December 2002 Terry Painter promoted (on his Estate Agency notepaper) Shaun Patrick Keegan who he said represented SFP Venture Partners (registered overseas). In 2006, to make TDC's Due Diligence easier on the eye, Shaun Patrick Keegan set up a shell company SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd (registered at Companies House)
This latest company generates no money itself and will only make money should Royal Sands be built and sold, so any money directed through it must come from the mysterious backer(s) who want to make money out of the site's development.

As stated before Shaun Patrick Keegan has never been formally identified through documents such as passport or driving license so when Alan Poole stood up on Monday 8th July 2013 and said a proper due diligence would now take place I was pleased.

How wrong was I!!!!

My email to Alan Poole:

Having read your recent answers from Monday night I note you are still in the process of doing “due diligence” on the recent offer from SFP.

Can you confirm that during this process TDC will make the effort to finally get Shaun Patrick Keegan to provide documentary evidence (passport or driving licence) of his identity. At the same time asking him to provide evidence of residence, something that Harvey Patterson confirmed had never been done in the 10 years of his role in the Pleasurama fiasco.
His reply:

Essentially our dealings are with a company (SFP) and their financial position…. not an individual (although we do have to deal with this individual).

The role of due diligence is not to check people's driving licences but mainly to ensure that the development stacks up from a development appraisal point of view (and we are doing specific work with SFP on this at the moment), and secondly that the funding is coming from a legitimate source.

We already have an agreement with SFP who are a legitimate registered company which was set up to specifically to deliver this development.

I hope this answers your questions………..

Well Alan it certainly doesn't. When and if you have to go to court where will your solicitor  serve papers? His Accountants address (that is the registered company address) The British Virgin Islands? Geneva?

Saturday 13 July 2013

Monday Night Meeting - Alan Poole's Speech

again apologies another lengthy speech

Good evening, I am Cllr Alan Poole, Deputy Leader of TDC and Cabinet Member for Operational Services – the Directorate dealing with the Royal Sands development.
I will attempt to set out the main issues relating to a number of aspects of the development of the Pleasurama site. This is because the information both in the media, on blog sites and at local meetings may not represent the current position with complete accuracy:
* Freehold - the council currently holds the freehold for the site, but the future transfer of the freehold is already part of an existing agreement with the developer which was approved by the Council in 2006. This agreement also granted the developer three 199 year leases covering the whole of the site - granted to enable the developer to secure funding and have possession of the site for construction purposes. Following completion of the flats, commercial units and hotel, the freehold will pass to the developer. The agreement was made against the aim to achieve value from the council’s sites, as well as trying to address our top priority of generating sustainable employment.
* The Current Agreement - the 2006 agreement was subsequently revised in 2009, at which time it was secured by a bond paid by the developer which will only be released on completion of the development.
* The Latest Discussions – the current proposals from the developer are still seeking changes to the development agreement and leases to meet the requirements of their potential funders. The council’s position on new proposals remains the same:
o Completion of the development within an agreed timetable
o Delivery of the full development proposal including the residential, commercial and hotel elements as planned
o Payment to the council of the agreed sums
* Work on Site - the developer has invested nearly £5 million (*2) in the site so far. This has funded cliff works undertaken by the council, as well as drainage and road works. In addition, this has also included the foundation works completed on site and the associated design works, as well as the bond payment that has been paid to the council.
* Development Funding - the developer has been seeking external funding to allow the completion of the site, and this has proved very difficult since the revised agreement was signed in 2009. In the current financial climate the banks and other lending institutions are reluctant to financially back investments that contain
some of the provisions contained with the current development agreement and leases. This has been the primary cause of the developer seeking variations to these documents. The council is currently undertaking due diligence actions in relation to appraisal documentation submitted by the developer.
* Compliance with Agreement - the main fundamentals of the agreement have been met by the developer. Although the development is due to be completed in 2014 under the agreement, there are provisions that this can be extended to 2017 if market circumstances dictate this and given the existing national economic position any such request would have to be given proper consideration. The Council could decide to refuse a request for an extension taking into account the slow progress of the development to date and concerns in relation to the current financial appraisal provided by the developer. However given the amount of funds already invested we would expect the developers to make a legal challenge to this. This would inevitably result in expensive and uncertain litigation and the council would need to consider its chances of success in terminating the agreement against the cost of legal action. More importantly, it must be noted that even if the council was successful, there would remain the long leases which the developer holds, which would remain valid even if the agreement was terminated. It would take further legal action by the Council in order to terminate those leases and recover possession of the site, the success of which would also be uncertain. These are matters which will form part of the consideration of options by the Overview and Scrutiny task and finish group.
Overview & Scrutiny are due to meet on 18th July: this is a public meeting.
* Financial Return - there have been some misconceptions about the value of the site and that this has been undervalued. However, this has been looked at in some depth by the council’s professional property officers and for a site on which all the investment cost and risk lies with the developer the council is getting above the market average for this type of deal, especially as it includes the construction of a hotel.
* Due Diligence - the council has already set out its requirements before accepting a revised agreement, and one of these is in relation to due diligence on the funding of the development. Despite concerns raised about this, the deal has always required the large majority of funding to come from external lenders, and the council’s focus will be primarily on whether this is financially robust. Financial appraisal details on the current situation have been provided recently as part of this process, and these are being assessed currently.
* Nature of Proposed Development - the question of whether this is the correct development for the site has been raised since it was first discussed over 10 years ago. Although this is a fair question, and will remain so, it does not provide a route (*1 my take) forward for the council at the present time. The development has a valid and enacted planning application for the proposals, and has a valid development agreement and leases under which it can be constructed if the funding is available. These cannot be set aside without legal action and as explained above, this has limited chance of success at this stage. Despite a number of suggestions on this front the council cannot seek to terminate the agreement or the leases on the basis that an alternative is preferable now. This would be immediately challengeable by the developer.
* Action by council - The council has already agreed to consider its options in relation to the current agreement and leases because the developer did not satisfy its requirements by 22nd May. This has involved setting up the task and finish group under Scrutiny to assess these options specifically and for Scrutiny to report back to Cabinet with its findings. However, as there is an existing agreement and leases with the developer, they are legally entitled to seek changes to these to allow the development to proceed, and the council need to consider these proposals in a reasonable fashion. Merely cutting off discussions, despite the developer not achieving the 22nd May target, is not an option as it could be challenged legally.
* I still believe the best way forward for all concerned and particularly the long suffering residents of Ramsgate is for the developer to get on site and complete the development as soon as possible.

*1 due diligence Can TDC confirm they now have sight of identity documents for Shaun Patrick Keegan?
*2 Figures do not add up to £5M

Whilst it seems clear to Cllr Poole there is more than one Cllr that believe SFP are not going to build, however in his latest email Cllr makes his feelings more than obvious, even during the debate he queried one resident's right to speak as he had only lived here 3 years.

Thank you for your email………….all the points that you make have already been made many, many times.
We have had many debates and lots of questions………which is probably why members did not want to debate the subject yet again.
We had a very long agenda which, even without a Pleasurama debate, took us well past 10:00……….believe it or not there are other important items that need attention!

I attach my Ramsgate Public Meeting speech and the answers to the FORS Council Meeting questions in the vain hope that some of your members might begin to understand the Council’s position.

By the way it appears that some of your members are not even Thanet residents let alone Ramsgate residents!

I don’t have a problem with robust political debate; I have broad shoulders………..but I will not tolerate the harassment and abuse of TDC Staff………….I would suggest that you speak with your members.

The current position is:-
1. The 2009 Agreement is valid.
2. The Leases are valid.
3. The Planning Approval is valid.
4. SFP has until 2014 to complete the development.
5. SFP has the right to request an extension to 2017.
6. TDC has to be seen to be acting ‘reasonably’ and will continue to speak with SFP.


Alan Poole

Friday 12 July 2013

Monday meeting - an estate agent speaks

Apologies for the wordy transcript but he is an estate agent. Here is the transcript from T Painter espousing the virtues of Shaun Keegan.

Good evening everybody
Got me to blame really haven’t you, I introduced the site some eleven odd years ago, but we .... we’re all to blame, of course, because we’ve all had our share of protesting and upsetting the situation in a number of ways.
What I would like to do because it will answer a lot of those questions and I think Councillor Poole has given a good sensible appraisal of the current situation. We are at deadlock; I am now going to read a report from SFP’s solicitor that summarises a lot of what Alan Poole has said and shows my client’s position, so bear with me it is quite lengthy.
At present both parties i.e. the Council and SFP are bound by the terms of the 2006 development agreement. The Council through Mark Seed are stating they require to be convinced that the Council will be in a stronger position under any new agreement and there will be a guarantee that the work will be completed and that the Hotel will be completed.
The 2006 agreement does not work and indeed because of this both the Council and SFP are in an impossible situation. The Main reasons the 2006 agreement does not work are as follows:
a)      That agreement requires any funder for the development to enter into a separate agreement with the Council. Guarantee that if the developer, if for any reason does not proceed with the development, it (the Funder) will take over the developer’s responsibilities and secure the completion of the development. In the present economic climate no funder will agree to enter into such an agreement. This point has been accepted by both the Council and SFP.
b)      That agreement effectively prohibits the sale of the flats until completion of the Hotel and that is now practicably impossible because of the following:
1)      The Hotel is at the Harbour Parade end of the site and the new(?) traffic order  affecting Nero’s Hill prohibits any construction traffic from approaching the site from the other end, which you would have to do if the Hotel is built first and the flats and commercial units secondly.
2)      The design of the Hotel incorporates a build over the access road at the rear and the tunnel at the back has a height restriction which will prevent construction traffic passing through it.
3)      It has been made clear by proposed hotel operators that they would not operate or open the hotel with a building site in operation next door.
c)       Pursuant to that agreement being signed leases for 199 years had been granted to SFP by the Council. These leases made reference to the 2006 agreement and as such are not acceptable as security by Funders for the development of the site.
The redrawn agreement incorporates a legal commitment on the part of SFP to the Council to complete the development, being the flats, commercial, and the Hotel. As in the original agreement overage is to be paid to the Council on the disposal of each of the flats and each of the commercial units. To support and secure the Council their obligation SFP has offered a second charge on the more valuable part of the site i.e. the residential and commercial part which provides an obligation on the part of SFP to complete the development and pay the overage. If SFP were to default the Council would be in a position to call in the second charge and whilst this would involve in redeeming the first charge it would then be in a position to seek forfeiture of the leases and repossession of the site.
SFP’s commitment to date, as you have already heard, has been investment exceeding £5M. The delays have been brought about by the change in the economic climate, which has made finance for the project extremely difficult. It has been endeavoured at all times to overcome these problems and extremely anxious to get on the site and commence the development as it needs a return on its capital investment. The delay has substantially reduced its potential profit, and therefore the attraction of this development, primarily because of the change in the economic climate, which has meant the interest he is paying for the funding has increased by 20%. Notwithstanding this SFP remains committed to complete the development.
It is a Commercial Company and has endeavoured to jump through the various hoops put up by the Council but its ability to continue to do so is becoming extremely difficult and its willingness to start and to show the people of Thanet on what has been a dead site. For too many years it appears to have been obstructed at every turn.