Partnership structure a shield against scrutiny

Published date04 October 2021
Publication titleIrish Times (Dublin, Ireland)
Leaked documents show that Office 29, Clifton House, on Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2, is linked to a controversial London-based company services business that operates under a number of names including Las International.

"They rent an office here, but there is nobody here at the moment," the receptionist in the lobby said when The Irish Times visited Clifton House and asked for Las International.

"They operate under a number of different names," she said. "Las Fiduciary, Las International and Company Advice."

Las Fiduciary is an Irish company incorporated in 2013 with its registered address at Clifton House. Its shareholders are Ineta Utinane (41) and Alisa Iurchenko (31), who are both Latvian nationals who live in England.

Both woman are also associated with Las International and Company Advice, of 5 Percy Street, London.

British-Russian accountant Elena Yael Dovzhik (44) owns Las International, and Utinane is a former minority shareholder.

According Graham Barrow, an expert in the use of limited partnerships (LPs), Las International is one of the top five company service providers involved in registering UK LPs that have opaque ownership structures.

The service providers have been instrumental in the registration of a huge numbers of English and Scottish LPs, the partners of which tend to be proxies based in offshore locations such as Belize and the Seychelles.

Obscured identities The net result of the way the partnerships are structured is that the identity of the people who actually control them is completely obscured, according to Barrow.

"There is a reason why people want that level of secrecy. It doesn't necessarily follow that it is a criminal reason, but it is suspicious. You can't get away from that. It is not the way most people conduct business, is it?"

In response to controversy in 2019 about a Scottish LP they registered, Las International issued a statement saying it was a registered company formations and office address provider in the UK that had over the years filed more than 10,000 formation applications to UK Companies House on behalf of business clients.

"We are not involved in the business activities of the companies that purchased our services," it said.

The Irish Times is not suggesting that applying for the registration of limited partnerships with proxy or offshore partners is illegal, or that the formation service companies involved have knowledge of the subsequent use made of such partnerships by those who control them.

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