When Philippine billionaire Dr. Lucio Tan kicked his son-in-law, Joseph Chua, out of the family business and off of all his Guam holdings, he also readjusted the flow of money affecting all of the Tan companies on island.
A review of the corporate documents of what is believed to be all of the shell corporations enveloping all of Dr. Tan’s Guam companies going back to 1972 reveals major changes to company ownership when Chua came to Guam in 1985 and again when Dr. Tan axed Chua in 2020.
To understand these changes, here is a summary of the major Tan companies actively operating on island:
The Micronesia Mall, Guam Beachfront Residences, American Bakery, Philippine Airlines (Guam), Philippine National Bank (Guam), and ongoing developments including a stalled mall construction in Tumon are the better known of the Tan companies on Guam. Every single one of these companies actually is owned and controlled by shell corporations. Two main shell corporations hold the controlling interest of all the companies, according to a trace of a web of corporate charters and amendments over the years. Both companies are not chartered on Guam. Both companies are based in Bermuda, and at least one is linked to the Panama Papers.
The oldest of Tan’s companies is Columbus Development Corporation, which was incorporated on October 11, 1972 by Michael Tan, Sum-Huen Wong, and K.C. Chan.
Allied Pacific Development Corporation and Greenhill, Inc. were born on March 31, 1980, followed by Goodwind Development Corporation on December 18, 1980. Dr. Tan himself chartered Allied, which appears to be the tycoon’s main company on island.
In 1980, Allied was owned and controlled by Akerfield Ltd., a company that does not exist on Guam. Its listed address was 911 New World Tower 16-18 Queen’s Road Central Hong Kong.
Columbus owns Grandview Corporation, which holds the 90-year lease to the land where Guam Beachfront Residences sits. The company owns and operates Guam Beachfront Residences.
Greenhill owns American Bakery.
Goodwind owns the Micronesia Mall, and the Philippine Airlines and Philippine National Bank Guam operations.
Chua changes the scene
The three main shell corporations – Columbus, Greenhill, and Goodwind – all have been owned and controlled by a couple different versions of Allied over the years. Those versions changed with Joseph Chua.
Mr. Chua is the husband of Dr. Tan’s eldest daughter, Rowena K. Tan (Chua). They became involved in the Guam companies as early as 1985, according to hundreds of pages of corporate documents at the Guam Department of Revenue and Taxation.
In 1986, a new Tan-related company was incorporated, though it is unclear whether Dr. Tan knew about or authorized this new venture. That year, Guam residents Iris and Larry Wong, together with Eusebio So, incorporated Kingston Holding Corporation with capital stock of $150,000 divided into 15,000 shares with a par value of $10. The Wongs used the mailing address P.O. Box 8308 Tamuning, Guam 96911, which tax records indicates belongs to Benison Corporation as of 2015. (Kandit has not yet inspected the corporate documents for Benison)
On June 15, 1987 and as the roof to the Micronesia Mall was being poured, Kingston’s capital stock jumped to $30 million, and its ownership completely changed. According to its first amended statement of the treasurer, Frank Chan, Raymond Chong, and Joseph Chua each owned one share of Kingston, while Galaxie (Bermuda), Ltd. owned 80,747 shares.
Galaxie has never existed on Guam, according to an exhaustive search of Guam DRT records.
The change in ownership was not filed until February 3, 1988, half a year to the grand opening of the Mall on August 8, 1988. Chua, as managing director of all of Tan’s companies, oversaw Goodwind and Mall operations.
On the same day Chua filed Kingston’s ownership change to Galaxie and himself, he also changed Allied’s controlling ownership from Akerfield to Kingston. That meant the controlling ownership of Goodwind, Columbus, and Greenhill also changed to Galaxie via Kingston.
Galaxie’s control over the Guam-based Tan businesses continued for decades under Chua’s leadership on Guam.
Tan’s other daughter repairs the cash flow
For reasons Dr. Tan has never publicly stated, the tycoon fired Chua in May 2021 and replaced him with Tan’s daughter, Jesselyn Tan Yu.
Ms. Yu swiftly changed out the ownership of all the Tan companies to replace the names of Chua and his wife (Yu’s older sister Rowena), Alex Lim, and others with the new sheriffs in town: herself, Rene Lao, and Richard Chan. Ms. Yu did not change the controlling interest of any of the shell companies except for one: Kingston. In its 2021 annual report, Kingston’s controlling owner was changed from Galaxie Bermuda to another Bermuda-based company: Dragon Holdings Int’l Bermuda Ltd. Dragon is not registered to do business on Guam.
The singular change in Kingston’s ownership affected all the other Tan companies. All of them now lead to Dragon, rather than to Galaxie.
The players during the Chua era
Recycled throughout the corporate documents during the Chua era are the same names, including Chong, Chan, Wong, So, Alex Lim, Cheung Ki Wong, Jesse Ng, Rowena Tan, and Shirley Tan.
At least three of these names appear in the Panama Papers.
According to The Guardian, “The Panama Papers are an unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ then shared them with a large network of international partners, including the Guardian and the BBC.”
“The documents show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes,” Luke Harding wrote in his report for The Guardian on April 5, 2016. “Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.”
According to the Panama Papers, the mailing address used by Columbus is linked to two people on Guam – Eusebio So and Jesse Ng.
Both men on February 17, 1992 became shareholders in a company called Maxima Holding Corporation, which was registered in the Bahamas. That company is listed to and operates in Hong Kong, sharing an office at Eton Tower No. 8 at Hysan Avenue Causeway Bay with Acme Nominees Limited. Eton Properties is a development owned by Dr Lucio Tan.
Maxima’s other shareholders and directors include Philippine resident Edwin Lim Tan and another Guam resident, Larry Wong Cheung. Its intermediary, Acme, is the Hong Kong holding company of 20 corporations and investment firms all registered in the British Virgin Islands.
Chua’s sudden fall from grace opens can of worms
Kandit discovered these facts from our investigation into Chua and two of his lieutenants: Micronesia Mall general manager Phillip Schrage and Alex Lim. Schrage and Lim are named defendants in a lawsuit filed by three siblings against their sister in law, Mary Leon Guerrero. The lawsuit alleges Ms. Leon Guerrero and other defendants (including Columbus, Schrage, and Lim) conspired to steal the one-third ownership interest of the Guam Beachfront Residences property from the siblings.
The timing of the taking of the depositions for the lawsuit coincided with Chua’s firing, which reportedly had to do with irregularities discovered by Dr. Tan’s accountants. The coincidence led Kandit to review Chua’s corporate connections to the Tan companies on Guam.
These connections, appearing to weave an intricate web among several Tan-associated Guam companies to offshore accounts, may help to understand a mystery in the annals of multi-billion dollar politics stemming from the sudden ostracizing by Dr. Tan of his son-in-law, Joseph Chua, in 2021. After all, despite all roads leading to Dr. Tan’s companies on Guam, do we truly believe the billionaire, who does not live on Guam, actually orchestrated any alleged criminal conspiracy involving his own companies and his money?
In May 2021, and following the filing of the Tumon Land Scam lawsuit, Goodwind Development Corporation announced the sudden departure of Chua as its president. Then, in October, Dr. Tan took out a full page ad in a Philippine national newspaper telling the world his own son in law has nothing to do with any of his companies.
According to an October 17, 2021 article in Bilyonaryo, “the 87-year old Tan axed Chua, the husband of Tan and first wife Carmen’s eldest daughter Rowena, from his Guam-based businesses under Goodwind Development Corp. allegedly due to questionable property acquisitions made by the son-in-law without the tobacco and airline tycoon’s knowledge.”
The article then made what would be the first reported connection between Chua and what is suspected to be the Tropicana controversy: “Tan’s auditors stumbled on several property purchases in Guam made by Chua allegedly using funds of Macroasia without authorization.”
Mr. Chua kept his silence about his very public fall from grace until the Philippine Star’s Iris Gonzales published a story on December 20, 2021 that included her exclusive interview with him.
Without identifying which property, Ms. Gonzales wrote in her story, Joseph Chua breaks his silence, “Chua allegedly land-grabbed a property from his father-in-law for his own personal property business in Guam. Not true, he says.
“Still related to the Guam business, which Chua was in charge of, Chua supposedly was blamed for the temporary closure of American Bakery in February this year, which was due to some government-imposed sanitary procedures. Some quarters insisted the closure was permanent and that it was Chua’s fault, but the bakery had reopened less than a month after, when he was still president of the Guam business, he says.”
Seven days later, she published a reprise, On Joseph Chua – wait, there’s more. According to her article, Gonzales was able to get more information from Chua about what was happening in the Guam Tan companies. She asked him about the rumor that several longtime employees had been culled or were leaving.
“I corroborate the many resignations and early retirements. Old time employees, managers, and supervisors were pressured to resign or retire early or outright terminated,” Gonzales reported Chua said to her.
According to Ms. Gonzales’s article:
“He also belied reports that he and his wife transferred Guam company shares to their children, as well as the permanent closure of the bakery as alleged by some quarters.
“‘In Guam, I was able to quadruple stockholders equity from 2001 to 2020,'” Gonzales quoted him as saying.
Three days later, the plaintiffs, who sued Columbus and two of Chua’s underlings in 2020 over the Tropicana scandal filed a second lawsuit in the Superior Court of Guam. Neither lawsuit names Chua as a defendant, but the second lawsuit delves into the use and alleged laundering of the money Columbus paid to Mary Leon Guerrero in a deal brokered by Ramona Siblang.
Among the chief arguments in the complaint are two life insurance policies that cost Mary and her son, Collin Leon Guerrero, a total of $600,000. The nature and status of those policies remain under a cloud, but they were sold to Mary and Collin by Ramona. According to the documents going all the way back to the first lawsuit, Ramona was at the center of the deal on both ends – for the seller and the buyer – from the jump.