During an investigation into a Braidy board member's lengthy history of litigation, The Daily Independent found one past business associate was actually the first person in the United States to plead guilty to charges relating to the Panama Papers leak.
Braidy director John T. Preston had multiple business dealings with H. Joachim von der Goltz during the 2000s, according to court records. Von der Goltz, at one point, sat on the board of a Preston venture in Texas and also invested money into Preston venture Atomic Ordered Materials, later renamed Continuum Energy Technologies, records show.
When the Texas venture imploded in a cacophony of lawsuits, von der Goltz filed a intervenor suit alongside the following companies: EMOJ Investments, Panorama Investment, Marair Corporate, Deltec Bank and Trust, Chester Mester, Akila Finance, Centrans Energy Services, PC 01 Vermogens Verw, Bosques del Molino, S.A. and First Bay Intertrade.
Federal prosecutors in 2018 alleged EMOJ Investments was actually a shell company von der Goltz used to transfer assets from overseas bank accounts for use in the United States without having to pay taxes.
In February of this year, von der Goltz pleaded guilty to nine federal charges related to tax evasion and wire fraud as a result of the Panama Paper leaks.
A database maintained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists revealed most of the companies listed in von der Goltz's suit as being off-shore entities. Centrans Energy Services was found be connected with other von der Goltzes, not H.J, per the database. Further investigation shows that PC 01 and Marair Corporation were also listed as companies associated with shells under von der Goltz's name.
The suit filed against Preston and others in Texas reveal von der Goltz had invested $130,000 into the venture. However, taking into account the suspected shell companies verified by the database, he actually had $3.6 million in the venture.
Part of the allegations in the suit von der Goltz filed against Preston and other Texas associates is that the CEO of that company had misused funds. Von der Goltz claimed in his filings that this was discovered following an audit by Boston-based firm Elder, Gaffey and Paine. Richard “Dick” Gaffey would later be indicted by von der Goltz for aiding him along with his tax-dodging scheme.
According to the federal prosecutors, von der Goltz opened off-shore entities in the name of his 102-year-old mother, who lives in Guatemala and wouldn't pay U.S. taxes.
The ICIJ broke the news about von der Goltz and other millionaires and companies around the world after receiving 11 million files from an anonymous source. Those files all stemmed from one Panamanian law firm, that specialized in setting up shell companies in tax havens around the world. A shell company is a company on paper kept in low-to-no tax jurisdictions that are used to conceal wealth.
The ICIJ reports Delaware, Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Panama, the British Virgin Islands and many more as tax havens shell companies may use.
When von der Goltz is sentenced, federal prosecutors are asking for 15 years in prison — essentially the rest of von der Goltz's life.
Although inquiries made by The Daily Independent to Preston via a Braidy spokesperson were answered with a reply from his attorney, questions about his connection with von der Goltz were not specifically addressed.
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