Legal

Guest post by Corporate Watch: People behind Cuadrilla win state approval to keep identities secret

Balcombe,West Sussex, UK Anti Fracking protests..16th September

Photo: David Burr

In this guest post, Corporate Watch reveals that the UK fracking company, Cuadrilla, has used legislation designed to increase corporate transparency to hide the identity of the people who control it.

According to documents filed at Companies House, the four individuals that ultimately control Cuadrilla Resources Holdings Ltd, the UK-registered parent company of the Cuadrilla group, are using an exemption in the government’s ‘Persons of Significant Control’ legislation, introduced last year to protect their identities.

Previous disclosures have shown Cuadrilla is majority-owned by the investment fund Riverstone Holdings and the Australian mining group, AJ Lucas. But the attempt to withhold information raises questions about whether others may be involved.

The government introduced the register of Persons of Significant Control (PSC) in April 2016. Its aim, in the words of then Business Minister Baroness Neville Rolfe, was to:

“help tackle abuse of corporate entities. This is part of our commitment to creating an environment of trust and accountability for business.”

People with significant control are often referred to as the “beneficial owners” of a company. Under the new legislation, details of the human individuals (as opposed to companies) who can influence or control companies should be entered into a publicly-accessible register.

However, there are certain exemptions that people can use to protect their identities. Section 790ZG in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act, which brought in the register, allows details to be withheld if the individuals can prove they are at risk of violence, intimidation or “targeting by activists”.

Government guidelines describe the exemptions as particularly suitable for people running companies involved in defence or animal testing, or if the company “has been targeted by activists”.

When asked for this article about the use of the exemption, Cuadrilla said it had been granted after the company provided evidence of “historic” and likely “ongoing threats” that left its controllers at “serious risk of intimidation”. A spokesperson said:

“We can confirm that in the Autumn of 2016 Cuadrilla made an application to Companies House to protect the names and addresses of Persons of Significant Control (PSC) with regard to Cuadrilla on the basis that having this information in the public domain would present a serious risk of intimidation to them.

“We followed the procedure set out by Companies House by submitting a statement and supporting evidence to demonstrate there had been historical threats and a strong likelihood of ongoing threats to those individuals. This was then independently assessed by the registrar and permission was granted to protect the relevant directors’ details. The information supplied remains confidential and not on the public record.”

Cuadrila pscsCuadrilla is one of a very small number of companies whose controllers have been granted protection in this way. Freedom of Information requests have shown that Companies House had accepted only five of 33 applications made for non-disclosure under exemption 790ZG in the 11 months between the start of the PSC regime in April last year to this February.

Legal protection for companies

In the late 1990s, the then Labour government introduced legal measures intended to protect companies from protesters, particularly if the companies’ activities were deemed significant to the national economy.

The arms and pharmaceuticals industries, in particular, started to use a range of legal processes to discourage protest and criticism. Measures previously used to protect companies from protest included the application of anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs), the use of bail conditions by the police as a form of extra-judicial punishment, use of blackmail and harassment and extensive use of terrorist legislation (including as an intelligence gathering tool against activists entering or leaving the country), with protesters being identified as ‘domestic extremists’.

Training workshops, delivered to schools under the counter-terrorism strategy, Prevent, has linked anti-fracking campaigners to domestic extremism.

Who does control Cuadrilla?

Existing Companies House records show Cuadrilla is owned by Australian mining services company AJ Lucas (45%), the US investment firm Riverstone (45%) and the management team and employees (10%).

Riverstone is run by its two founders: the ex-Goldman Sachs financiers David Leuschen and Pierre Lapeyre Jr. Research by Greenpeace previously identified Kerogen Holdings as the majority shareholder of AJ Lucas. Kerogen is co-owned and run by Ivor Orchard, who is also a Cuadrilla director.

All of them could be PSCs, as could Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan. But these individuals are already publicly-known to be involved with Cuadrilla. If they had wanted to protect their address, they could have applied for another exemption, section 790ZF, that is more readily granted and allows for just that.

This raises the possibility that there are individuals behind Cuadrilla who have not yet been identified.

Companies House records show another two of AJ Lucas’ UK companies – Lucas Holdings (Bowland) Ltd and Lucas Holdings (Bolney) Ltd – have also applied for the exemption, which suggests it is people connected with AJ Lucas rather than Riverstone that want to stay hidden

There have previously been reports that the Chinese state-owned oil firm China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) was linked to Cuadrilla through its major investment in Kerogen Capital.

This is a shorter version of an article published today by Corporate Watch here

32 replies »

  1. Aren’t the identities already known?
    Released before they all got more aware of how damaging their jobs could be to our country!

  2. I understand that Cuadrilla have now declared that they wish to be known as ” 💩” the symbol formerly known as Cuadrilla…..

  3. ….and why shouldnt these people have a right to anonymity? There are some seriously ill informed people out there after all, some with violent and deranged tendencies. Look at the protests at PNR.

    • The ONLY violence, including vehicular assaults, perpetrated at PNR and Cuadrilla contractors’ / suppliers’ depots was by police and Cuadrilla-paid sub-contractors.

    • Yes indeed there are people like you describe present from time to time at PNR!
      They emerge from large blue vehicles from time to time and assault our elected Councillors and other vulnerable folks!
      Shame on them and complaints/prosecutions are under way!
      Shame on you for criticising Communities for standing up for themselves!
      It is our duty and our right!
      What would you do?

  4. Cuadrilla and their various PR companies are very good at fabricating tales to suit their own ends. Their recent accusations of death threats in the Telegraph have been shown to be complete lies. That’s the reason IPSO made the Telegraph remove the article and apologise.
    It’s very convenient for Cuadrilla that their statement and the supporting evidence presented last Autumn in order to claim exemption from the Public Access Register is not on public record. Secret evidence that cannot be challenged.
    The government will go to any lengths to protect this vile company.

    • Precisely, so this is a message to us all, Cuadrilla lied about “death threats” however this entire country is being threatened by this evil industry, so the people of this country should demand that Cuadrilla owners anonymity be withdrawn forthwith.
      Lets see who are pulling the strings in government.

    • I think it is essential that transparency is maintained and I don’t think a beneficiary to a fracking company should be able to hide. I can understand private addresses being withheld in any sensitive situation but Cuadrilla should be made to operate like any other company. This seems another PR disaster in the making and will only create further public mistrust.

      False allegations of arrests for death threats and threats of violence have been made against those that oppose fracking, leading to an apology being made by the Telegraph. The ACC of North Yorkshire Police along with other police forces have had to issue an apology for including anti fracking protestors on the Prevent Strategy – yet no one seems to take this into account in terms of the impact on public rights. So one can be forgiven for thinking this is yet another measure to add to the hype and that is being conveniently exploited by industry.

      Aligning oneself too close to one political party, as the other main parties now oppose fracking, and against the public, in my opinion, will never lead to success or public acceptance.

  5. Perhaps a sidetrack here but I am assured in these pages that is a legitimate practice? However it seems that US and Russia are facing each other down in the bombed out streets of Syria at the moment.
    That could lead to a war footing and in that UK would be complicit. No doubt China would not be too far behind in the game.
    In a war situation that would mean a suspension of the freedom of speech, something we have been moving towards for a while now.
    There are many scenarios that could play out, but almost certainly, the oil and gas would immediately become part of a “war effort” and be given full reign ahead. Opposition to that would then become sedition or treason or some such accusation.
    So just a note of caution at the moment.
    We are living in interesting times, may they not get so interesting that we do not survive the experience….
    Its a beautiful day, get out and enjoy it.

    • Some links to ponder over the weekend, the first is Ian Cranes Fracking Nightmare, which shows what constitutes peaceful policing nowadays.

      The second is also from Ian R Crane Humanity vs Insanity and latterly details the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland experience of proposed fracking, and also mentions the NWO Agenda 30 intention to force people off the land and allow the o&g industry to exploit and desecrate the natural resources without opposition or any environmental considerations at all.

      I cannot help but note the expression “oil and gas are the heroin of the O&G industry.” That would certainly explain some of the more……bizarre……attitudes displayed by some on these pages.

      Whether this illustrates the dying desperation of the industry or a long term plan being activated by the industry remains to be seen.

      For me the Agenda 30 intention to partition off parts of our landscape and totally desecrate this country is the final piece in the puzzle and explains all the operational location anomalies and paranoid anonymity moves, once ordinary people finally wake up to what is being done to them, the perpetraitors (spelling deliberate) will all be hidden from view and safely tucked away in their secret bunkers, both figuratively and physically.

      • Phil C – I am getting worried for you. Ian Crane? Your credibility is now in question posting this rubbish.

          • Always fascinated to see the same denigration of Ian R Crane trotted out on these pages, its the same with the FOE and anyone who opposes the industry, i suspect that the EA will be next. All industry strategies.

            The concerns you express are admirable, however i suspect that is just another strategy, quite a good one too, i rather like it, sort of a gentle put down as if something is wrong? nice one, well done. i think that is number five on the o&g strategy list to belittle anyone who protests.

            Clearly there is a whole big something wrong with this insane political situation and that includes the present fracking debacle.

            I see little credibility from the industry at the moment, or at any time in the past come to think of it.

            As for Ian R Crane………enjoy!

          • You have lost me. Why not stick to engineering / technical – this I can understand:

            “Thanks, i’ll look at them this evening, GottaGoNow” “It would perhaps be interesting to see the deposited drawing details and specs for the various projects, just to see what is proposed or constructed.”

            I assume you are okay with the site construction plans at Markwells Wood?

            • Just playing with TW, don’t worry about it, yes I did look, i will comment when i get a chance to sit down and study them, meanwhile the garden is calling me to prune and weed and water and plant some more shrubs, never a sign of anyone around here when the garden needs a hand or four?

            • Never mind TW/AI,
              I had a house full of students this morning loudly discussing Trump and Putin facing each other down, and then the students all evaporate when it comes to help in the garden, i guess i was the same when i was young, it made me think, i sincerely hope they will get to live as long as i have. As if the threat of fracking was not enough for them and my children and grand children to be allowed to live their lives out, i look at Trump and Putin and think….oh crap!

              You say “No(-)one is silly enough to creat(e) (a) war for the s(-h)ake of shale gas alone”

              I would ask the same question:

              Tell me this TW/AI whoever you are? the birds sing, the sun shines and plants are budding and flowering and coming into leaf, clean water, clean air, the quiet and calm, and i think how imminently that is all under threat from the o&g invaders setting up shop nearby, and then the madmen threatening world war, and i think, how can anyone, no matter how crazy, throw all that natural beauty peace and ecology away?

              Its the same question, do you not see that?

              But i’m not a politician or an o&g exploiter, so i probably don’t understand what motivates such thinking, so i guess to them that makes me mad? But how do you think that makes them look to me?

              “have i gone mad?
              i’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, all the best people usually are.” Lewis Carroll – Alice in wonderland

  6. War at the front door of EU and Brexit would mean secured energy supply is more important than ever before (now don’t put up the renewables jargon here we’ve been through this before). The drift in diplomatic relationship with Russia and turmoil in Middle East be a challenging time for UK as a country and a member of NATO. The anti fracking brigades will be a useful vehicle from Russia point of view.

        • Rex Tillerson, ex CEO of Exxon, launches cruise missiles at Syria, price of oil goes up, oil company shares go up, Rex’s share holding goes up… Makes perfect sense.

          • Strategy number four!
            Lovely response, i believe the phrase to be plausible deniability, you see how absurdity is just a few words away? Look at the trends in current thinking about fracking and the present insanity between nations, and see how that is manipulated to achieve whatever insane agenda lurks behind much of the worlds events recently.
            If the world wasn’t so insane at the moment, i would run a mile from these things, but the world IS insane and getting more so as we speak. So what is the proper response to that? Look at some of these quotes and see if any appeal to you…

            “The only difference between me and a madman is I’m not mad.” ― Salvador Dalí

            “When the whole world is crazy, it doesn’t pay to be sane.” ― Terry Goodkind

            “No man is sane who does not know how to be insane on the proper occasions.― Henry Ward Beecher

            “Perfect sanity is a myth propagated by straitjacket salesmen.” ― Rebecca McKinsey

            “One secret of life is that the reason life works at all is that not everyone in your tribe is nuts on the same day. Another secret is that laughter is carbonated holiness” ― Anne Lamott

            “In a mad world, only the mad are sane.” ― Akira Kurosawa

            “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” ― Lily Tomlin

            “If we allow an insane event to happen without opposition, what does that say about us?” ― Phil C

            • In reply to your last quote PhilC.

              “If we obstruct a sane event from happening what does it say about us?” TW.

              “The only difference between a genius and a madman is the measures of his success”. Mark Twain, I think.

              Anyway, I am losing it too.

            • Derivative but acceptable, how about:

              “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
              “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
              “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
              “You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here. ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

              Time for tea, but there again, its always time for tea.

  7. The only violence at the proposed fracking site on Preston New Road has been perpetrated by the police, (very occasionally security). They outnumber the protectors, frequently kettling, manhandling or even arresting them for no perceptible reason.

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