GSD insists on transparency as ISOLAS and Fiduciary wade into row
Local law firm ISOLAS, together with the Fiduciary Group of Companies, yesterday waded into the political storm over Albert Isola’s link to a Bahamian company.
In a statement issued by Marcus Killick, the Chief Executive Officer of ISOLAS, and David MacGregor, the Chief Executive Officer of Fiduciary, the companies sought to protect themselves from any possible reputational damage as a result of the acrimonious row.
The law firm and Fiduciary, the trust and company management business associated with ISOLAS, said they wanted to “clarify and correct factual inaccuracies” in statements issued by the GSD in recent days.
But the development came as the Opposition insisted that the Gibraltar Government and Mr Isola, the Minister for Financial Services, had failed to be “open and transparent” over the link to the Bahamian company, Artnell Associates Ltd.
At the heart of the row is whether Mr Isola properly revealed his interest in Artnell when he completed his Declaration of Members Interests form, a public document which all MPs are required to complete to set out their financial interests.
Mr Isola insists that he did, but the GSD remains to be convinced.
In a statement yesterday, ISOLAS and Fiduciary Group explained the ownership structure relating to Artnell and said Mr Isola owned no shares in that now inactive company, which had provided professional services and had no assets.
They added that Mr Isola, who had ownership interests only in the Fiduciary Group’s holding company, had completed his declarations to parliament “properly and fully”.
The existence of Artnell was revealed in the leaked Panama Papers and highlighted last week by the Opposition, which said Mr Isola had not included the company in his declaration.
Yesterday the GSD repeated its questions, asking whether Mr Isola was a beneficial owner of shares in Artnell as suggested by the leaked documents and, if so, whether he would declare that ownership “as he has still failed to do”.
“If he is not a beneficial owner of that Bahamian company as the public have been led to believe by his assertion that it is part of the Fiduciary Group, will he publish evidence showing that the Panama Papers are wrong?” the GSD also asked. “Otherwise, his current Declaration of Interest is erroneous.”
It added: “If that Bahamian company acted as director of other companies, as has been said in defence of Minister Isola, is it licensed in the Bahamas to provide this service and did he receive, directly or indirectly, any financial benefit from it during his time as a Government Minister?”
“It is incumbent upon Minister Isola and the Government to be fully open and transparent, as was promised by the GSLP/Liberals in their recent election manifesto.”
As well as being a minister, Mr Isola is a non-practicing partner of the law firm ISOLAS and a member of the family that owns the Fiduciary Group of Companies.
In their statement yesterday, the ISOLAS and Fiduciary said they wanted to “…clarify and correct the factual inaccuracies that are contained in statements issued by the Opposition party, and thus to protect Fiduciary, and by association with it ISOLAS and its partners, from the possibility of unwarranted damage to their reputations from incorrect statement.”
The Fiduciary Group of Companies consists of several companies, including Artnell Associates Limited, through which the group offers professional services to its external clients and those of ISOLAS, the law firm.
As part of the Fiduciary Group, Artnell is thus owned, as a subsidiary, by the Fiduciary Group’s holding company, the statement said.
“No member of the extended Isola family, including Albert Isola, own any shares in Artnell Associates Limited,” ISOLAS and Fiduciary said in the statement.
“Mr Albert Isola and his family, like his siblings and their families, have an ownership interest only in the Fiduciary Group’s holding company.”
“We understand that Mr Albert Isola has properly and fully declared that interest in his Parliamentary Declaration of Members’ Interests.”
“We can confirm that he has no declarable interest in Artnell Associates Limited or any other member of the Fiduciary Group of Companies except the Group’s holding company.”
“Furthermore, for the avoidance of more, speculative doubt, as a provider of professional facilities to clients, Artnell Associates Limited has never had any assets, and in any event has been effectively inactive for some time.”