Llanbedr has made the news in recent years due to it being cursed by a 17th century bridge carrying the A496 road through the heart of the village. The so-called ‘Welsh Government’ promised the area a bypass, but reneged in November 2021.
Then, in April this year, the Transport Minister, Lee Waters, told locals the ‘Welsh Government’ would now support “sustainable transport measures“. Which seems to have been the 20mph restrictions introduced across Wales a couple of months ago.
As I went through the previous offerings on Llanbedr I realised what a complicated story it is. So rather than deal with peripheral characters, like the alleged money-launderer of Venezuela and Miami, and various dead-ends, I shall instead focus on the main players, ownership and leasing arrangements, and recent developments.
Also, and perhaps more importantly, I shall proffer a possible explanation for what is reported to be happening at Llanbedr airfield now. And if I’m anywhere near right, then this poses questions for officialdom, especially our ‘Welsh Government’.
AIRFIELD PURCHASE AND THE FIRST LEASE
The story so far . . .
The airfield was originally a military site, but bought for £700,000 in March 2006 by the Welsh Development Agency, and then passed to the Welsh Assembly. (Here’s the freehold title document.)
The site was leased for 125 years in July 2012 to Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP (since renamed Snowdonia Aerospace LLP) with the lessee getting loans from the Secretary of State for Defence and the Welsh Assembly Government. (The leasehold title document.)
The first named director of Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP / Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, in July 2008, was Putney Investments Ltd, registered on the Isle of Man in 1991, and also giving a desirable Gold Coast property as an address.
A few days later Putney Investments was joined at Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP by others, including Lee John Paul. But for some reason there’s a four-month gap between the company being launched and the first directors being appointed. Very odd.
Paul had been involved with another Welsh airfield in Pembrokeshire. He joined Brawdy Business Park Ltd in September 2003 and it went belly-up in April 2013, but the writing must have been on the wall before the collapse
Does the shambles at Brawdy explain why Putney Investments took the lead at Llanbedr? For the Incorporation document for Llanbedr Airfield Estates is signed by Michael ‘Digger’ Cole, representing companies called Lapcrest Ltd and Cromring Ltd. Both launched in 1998 and both Dissolved in March 2022.
Brawdy Business Park collapsed with a number of outstanding debts, one with the Welsh Development Agency. Yet the last accounts filed with Companies House suggest almost four hundred thousand pounds in the kitty, so where did that go?
At the end, all the Brawdy shares (see here) were owned by Solutions For Storage Ltd (since renamed Ocean Park Investments Ltd), and this company is ultimately owned by another Lee John Paul company, Inspired By Ltd.
From a filing made with Companies House just last month we know that seventy of the Inspired By shares are owned by the Paul family, with the remaining 30 with a family called Lane, who I suppose could be related.
As I’ve said, Putney Investments was registered in the Isle of Man. The early directors of the company seem to have been a mixture of local agents and businessmen favouring arrangements even more opaque than what Companies House offers.
PUTNEY INVESTMENTS AND GUNMEN IN SIBERIA
Among these ‘businessmen’ is Philip Mark Croshaw, who gets a big mention on the Offshore Leaks website. Another is Simon Peter Elmont, who also favours jurisdictions with relaxed attitudes to regulation. Such as Cyprus. He too gets mentioned by Offshore Leaks.
Below you’ll see Croshaw and Elmont linked in the November 1997 IoM Annual Return for Putney Investments Ltd. The third name is Gillian Norah Caine. We’ll see her name again in a minute.
On this same Annual Return (full document available here), the two shares are split between Aston Corporate Trustees Ltd and Susan Christine Cubbon, both giving the same IoM address.
We shall also see Ms Cubbon’s name again in a minute. In fact, we’ll see Croshaw, Elmont, Caine and Cubbon named in US court documents.
Another company where Croshaw and Elmont would have been found together was International Securities Investments Ltd. They joined and left on the same dates. That said, they’re not Siamese twins; for both men have been separately involved with many hundreds of companies. Croshaw more than Elmont.
Though there seems to have been a break around 1998/9. Did it have anything to do with a Siberian oilfield and Kalashnikov-wielding thugs working for a couple of oligarchs?
Or could it be Croshaw being disqualified. This certainly explains why Croshaw ceased being a director of Putney on 26 January 1999. (Though not why Elmont should also resign on that day.) Ms Cubbon was left holding the fort.
Did Croshaw give up the excitement of wheeler-dealing in exotic locales to devote himself to good works? I think not. I believe he carried on, perhaps operating in the IoM through proxies and fronts.
We know he didn’t retire because in 2013 he was called before the BVI Financial Services Commission. What the hell do you have to do to upset them!
Philip Mark Croshaw is clearly a bit of a lad, and all will be revealed in a tick . . . Of course, this does not reflect well on those with whom he associates. And certainly not on Putney Investments Ltd.
What I was referring to by introducing Kalashnikovs and US courts is a case brought by Canadian oil company Norex against, primarily, two Russian oligarchs named ‘Len’ Blavatnik and Victor Vekselberg. Here’s how CBC reported it in July 2001.
And here’s a Guardian report from July 2003. Note the reference to the Isle of Man at the end of the second paragraph. To cut a long story short, Norex lost out by a decision made in a New York court in August 2015. And the case seems to have been finally put to bed in June 2017.
I introduce this fascinating episode because of the IoM reference. And although the court papers (page 2) do not mention Putney Investments, we know that those named were all involved with Putney. And one of them, Philip Croshaw, had by then been barred from holding directorships on the Isle of Man.
Under the names Croshaw, Elmont, Caine and Cubbon we read what each is accused of or is said to know. Scroll down and you’ll see that a few of the other defendants gave addresses on the tiny island of Sark. What does it mean?
Croshaw, and probably Elmont, sign up as directors of companies in order to hide the true identities of those involved. It’s reasonable to assume this is what they did with Putney Investments, so who is really behind Putney at Llanbedr?
And what happened to Putney after Croshaw and Elmont left in 1999? Well, in January 2002, the shares passed from Ms Cubbon and Aston Corporate Trustees Ltd to Garwood Ltd and Tanwood Ltd. Though Ms Cubbon was still involved, signing for Premier Secretaries Ltd. Gillian Norah Caine works or worked for the same company.
In the Annual Return of November 2008 we see that the Putney shares passed in April of that year to Michael Cole and Christine Cole, resident in Spain. But the Annual Return for 2012 tells us that the Coles are now living on Queensland’s Gold Coast, at the bonzer little property shown in the previous section.
Though that was not Michael Cole’s first flirtation with Putney Investments. For there was a company of that name registered from an address in Hampshire. Cole became a director in December 2003, giving his address in Spain.
Control of that Putney Investments was exercised by Cromring Ltd, which Cole and his wife joined as directors on St David’s Day 1999. This was very soon after Croshaw and Elmont left the IoM Putney Investments. Coincidence, no doubt.
The Coles remained the shareholders of the IoM Putney Investments until April this year, and then, after a brief interval, Putney passed to the Kean brothers at Eximia. A company set up 2 February 2021.
I believe the Coles were also involved in the ‘Sark Lark’. Fronting for others and getting paid handsomely for it.
Anyway, I’m all Manxed out. I’m going to leave it here . . .
Putney Investments on the Isle of Man was a vehicle for Philip Mark Croshaw and Simon Peter Elmont to represent others who wished to remain anonymous.
But what did those wishing to remain anonymous have to hide?
The IoM company and the ‘other’ Putney Investments, linked to Michael Cole, were the same scam registered in different jurisdictions, which is why Cole and his wife became directors of the IoM Putney.
And this indirectly connects Croshaw and Elmont (and God knows who else) with Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP / Snowdonia Aerospace Ltd.
PUTNEY INVESTMENTS, THE SECOND LEASE, ENDGAME?
So let me don my Columbo disguise and try to sum it all up.
Putney Investments was formed on the Isle of Man in 1991. We know that two very colourful characters, Philip Mark Croshaw and Simon Peter Elmont, of the ‘Sark Lark’, were involved, and implicated in a strange affair in the howling wastes of Siberia.
Then, Putney Investments appears, using an Antipodean address, as the first director of Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP (later Snowdonia Aerospace LLP), a company that leases Llanbedr airfield from the ‘Welsh Government’. We know it’s the same company as the IoM manifestation because it uses the same IoM registration number, 54168C.
Putney Investments is still busy at Llanbedr.
For in April 2020, a second lease was taken out against Llanbedr airfield, this one by new entity Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP, for £1,275,000. (Title document.) With the funding coming from, so we are told, Compass Point Estates LLP.
Since 1 October 2020 control over the new outfit has been exercised jointly by Putney Investment (sic) Ltd and Lee John Paul.
As we just read, the funding for the second lease came from Compass Point Estates LLP. But the ultimate owner, and therefore the lender, is Inspired By Ltd, which we also met earlier. A company in which the Paul family holds a majority of the shares.
Which means that by a convoluted mechanism Lee John Paul is lending himself money, pretending that the loan comes from an unrelated source. Now why would he do that?
The loans made to the original company, Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP / Snowdonia Aerospace LLP have been paid off, but that company still holds the lease on the airfield until 2137.
But now there’s a sub-lease, for 30 years, to Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP.
Yet it’s the same people – Lee John Paul and Putney Investments Ltd – holding both leases, and controlling both companies. So what’s the point of this arrangement?
I suggest that the second lease, the sub-lease, gives Putney and Paul far more freedom to do as they wish at Llanbedr. Even to the extent of stripping the place bare and flogging off the assets. Which is what I’m told is happening.
And indeed, this paragraph in the ‘Details of Charge’ from Companies House would seem to support that theory. Putney and Paul, as lenders, could get heavy with their borrower selves – and clear the site of ‘chattels’.
It may already be happening, for I’m assured that the bowsers (fuel tanks) from Llanbedr are now at Shoreham (Brighton). The cabling for the runway lights and other facilities has been dug up and is ready for sale. With the trenches they came from now filled.
It seems Llanbedr airfield is being stripped of its transportable and saleable assets.
Which should make us ponder the legality of the sub-lease. Something I was reminded of when I saw the paragraph below in the title document.
Which serves to remind us that the airfield is still owned by the ‘Welsh Government’ – and that’s us. So do the terms of the first lease between ‘Welsh Government’ and Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP / Snowdonia Aerospace LLP allow for sub-leasing?
And if it’s not allowed, then what will those clever people in Cardiff do about it?
But if Corruption Bay did give permission, then why didn’t they realise that it was the same people who already leased Llanbedr airfield taking out that second lease while pretending to be somebody else?
Is anybody going to ask the awkward questions? Or are they afraid of the answers?
♦ end ♦
© Royston Jones 2023