For more than a decade the ‘family office’ Pembridge had amassed a portfolio worth millions of dollars. But the Royal Canadian Mounted Police alleges the business did little to distribute the money
Under the tiny Caribbean island of Anguilla, Pembridge International Group (PIG) is alleged to have arranged and funded an elaborate fraud involving a number of shell companies with links to Canada.
The arrest and trial of the relatively young Anguilla-born Pembridge, who now lives in Hong Kong, is the first time such a fraud has been made public. He was charged with fraud and money laundering and has pleaded not guilty.
The Vancouver Sun reported Pembridge made a little more than $9m (£6.9m) between 2011 and 2016 and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is alleged to have been informed by informants from the Anguilla judiciary and customs who provided information on individuals involved in a money laundering scheme. The RCMP alleges the company owned and controlled by Pembridge was not making use of the revenue for several years, setting up several shell companies instead.
While Pembridge is suspected of turning a blind eye to the misuse of his trust fund, it is alleged he was a central player in an alleged scheme to launder money belonging to a wealthy Anguilla family, with a large stake in a number of Australian businesses. In court filings, both Canada and the Anguilla government have alleged the family’s funds were siphoned out of Panama as part of the alleged fraud.
Chalk has collected allegations against Pembridge in Anguilla and two of his senior executives, Marion Diabernelo and Anthony Cartolano, have already been convicted on fraudulent activity charges related to the money laundering scheme, the Daily Telegraph reported.
In the legal documents, obtained by the Guardian, the Anguilla government says it has moved to freeze about $100m of Pembridge’s funds following an interview with multiple informants who claimed Pembridge was complicit in the misappropriation of more than $9m. In one filing, one informant alleges the money Pembridge was associated with was used for the purpose of creating an “international vehicle to pursue [a] vanity project” and that Pembridge had been involved in the project from an early stage.
Pembridge, who has successfully fought extradition to Canada, allegedly continued to receive payments until as recently as December 2017. The alleged bogus companies he controlled have failed to pay back funds borrowed by Pembridge’s Anguilla company from a second Anguilla company which has paid back $82,000 so far, but Pembridge has filed a counter affidavit claiming he is owed more than $30m from the investment scheme.
Pembridge is not the only western-based businessman at the centre of investigations into alleged money laundering in Anguilla. Reuters reported in May the UK government and law enforcement agencies in the UK, US and Canada had requested information about Anguilla and three other non-EU Caribbean islands. Canada, the US and the UK have also been working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to scrutinise emerging offshore centres, including Anguilla.