Kiwi and conman in takeover mystery
A New Zealander with multiple fraud convictions and an international conman wanted by United States authorities are attempting to take over a listed energy company.
Takeover documents filed on May 10 state New Zealander Shaun Morgan was the proposed chief executive officer of a proposed merger between Corporate Partners and the Insight Management Corporation, a penny dreadful listed on the United States' OTC exchange.
Last week Sunday Star-Times revealed Morgan, who has served prison time for fraud in both the United States and Switzerland, was released from prison in January and was refashioning himself as a fraud-buster in the United Kingdom.
Another proposed director, Marc Duchesne, was sentenced in 2009 to four-and-a-half years in prison in the United Kingdom for running a £12 million (NZ$22m) Ponzi scheme but escaped from jail in 2010 while awaiting extradition to the United States to face other fraud charges.
A biography of the pair provided in the takeover documents fails to note Morgan's two prison sentences - in Switzerland and Utah - for bank fraud, or Duchesne's permanent Securities and Exchange Commission ban on any involvement with penny dreadfuls after a previous pump-and-dump scam.
Morgan confirmed to the Sunday Star-Times he had worked on the Insight deal, but said the takeover documents - including his biography - were prepared without his involvement. He said his signature on them was forged.
A claim in the takeover documents that he had a Masters degree from the London School of Economics was false, he said.
Morgan lists his job title on LinkedIn as "CEO of Corporate Partners", but said: "It was never my company, I was contracted as a consultant."
Morgan said he had met Duchesne once, in Switzerland in 2007, where the Englishman claimed to be a nephew of Margaret Thatcher.
Morgan said he was unaware of Duchesne's criminal background or involvement in Corporate Partners until earlier this month when, he said, the takeover deal collapsed.
Morgan said he withdrew from the deal after he became concerned at a lack of progress.
"There was a lot of work done, and emails and contracts exchanged - and nothing really came out of it. It got down a path of repetitive behaviour. While I'm happy to be receiving payment for doing work, I don't want to be sitting in a jail cell again."
Duchesne made headlines in the United Kingdom in 2009 after his Benchmark Asset Management was revealed to be a £12m Ponzi scheme where the proceeds were spent on Ferraris, chartering private jets and cosmetic surgery.
Court hearings in the United Kingdom revealed Duchesne had fraud convictions in Switzerland and his claims Thatcher was his aunt were false.
Across the Atlantic, two separate investigations have fingered Duchesne - who also called himself Marc Spinks, Carl Von Wasserman and Otto Von Rittner - in a pump-and-dump scam and the flogging of worthless insurance contracts.
A spokesman for London's Metropolitan Police said Duchesne had been recaptured after his 2010 escape, and hearings to consider dual extradition requests - from Texas and Washington - started last week.
Given Duchesne was in prison at the time the Insight takeover was proposed, and Morgan's claims that his signature was forged, exactly who stands behind Corporate Partners is a matter of some mystery.
The Insight takeover documents state Corporate Partners, a "specialist investment management consulting group", is based in the United Kingdom, but the sole director of that country's Corporate Partners - a lawyer - said his company had no connection to Morgan or the Insight deal.
A Corporate Partners internet domain registered by Morgan - using his Gold Coast-based mother's name - redirected to a Corporate Partners website that said the company's headquarters was in Cyprus.
Morgan said he believed Corporate Partners was a Turkish firm.
Emails sent to Corporate Partners and Insight Management about the proposed merger went unanswered.
Sunday Star Times