In all the hubbub over Mossack Fonseca, other law firms doing their bit to help good men and women hide their loot have been scandalously overlooked. No longer. Welcome to Légal et Financier Européen, set up by a former HSBC compliance lawyer and his wife.
Visitors to the LEFE site are immediately made aware that they are in the hands of refined lawyers by the posh font, which promises buckets of Ferrero Roche at reception, Joanna Lumley narrating the lifts and lashings and lashings of smart Euro peen.
|Defo not grubby, look at the swirls
LEFE promotes itself as a "Business Development and Legal Counsel" service. Based in Paris, it has a clucking terrible wordcloud.
LEFE's main business is setting up offshore funds. In something of an understatement, its site notes that they've suffered "some bad press":
As LEFE explains, these hidden funds beloved of the super-rich are actually pretty much socialist piggybanks. Whereas the popular perception is that cash just sits in them metastasizing quietly for Sir Fuksem-Politely, in fact they provide more money to the taxman than conventional bank accounts.
Despite the obvious altruism behind offshore funds, for some reason LEFE feels obliged to go on, emphasising that they are legal and there is no place for morality here:
LEFE also does arbitration. Of course most LEFE clients earn a living curing cancer, making crutches, eating pollution or shitting out mung beans for the poor. But for those who don't, for those who maybe mulch orphans or sell tickets to baby orangutan hunts, for those who make guns out of unicorn horns and turn crabs upside down, LEFE's view of the key advantage of arbitration will appeal:
So who are the masterminds behind LEFE? And, indeed, its only visible staff? A married couple:
|Curious and curiouser
|Must have been taken on a Friday
It is not immediately clear how Valentina qualifies as 'Executive Council'.
Mah apologies. She brought international flavours to Russia.
Justin McCarthy, in line with his firm's antipathy towards regulation and its embrace of ethically-dubious investment vehicles, is a keen libertarian. It so happens that between 2006 and 2008 he was also a compliance officer at HSBC's London office. Coincidentally, the bank was fined $1.9 billion in the US for laundering Mexican cartel's money, while in London it was investigated on suspicion of allowing suspected drug-dealers and other criminals to set up, how about that, offshore funds. At the time the scandal generated "some bad press".