Owner system

The Welsh village of Cemaes is the victim of a soft-touch system that allows anyone to create “shell companies”

Is this Welsh village really home to seven Hungarian zoos? Cemaes is a victim of a soft-touch scheme that allows anyone to set up UK fraud and money laundering ‘shell companies’ without proof of identity

  • Seven new businesses in Cemaes, Wales, claim to be creating ‘zoos’
  • They all claim to have Hungarian directors supposedly based in 7 cottages
  • Owners of three said their homes had been used without their consent
  • The Welsh village is one of the latest to fall victim to the new Companies House system










Nestled around a pretty harbour, Cemaes is an unlikely location for a wildlife park.

So residents of Wales’ most northerly village were surprised to learn that seven businesses claiming to create ‘botanical and zoological gardens’ or ‘nature reserves’ had been registered there for eight days last month.

However, the village’s 1,300 residents are unlikely to be joined by lions, elephants and monkeys anytime soon.

A Mail on Sunday investigation may reveal Cemaes is the latest place to fall victim to a soft-touch system that allows anyone to set up a business in the UK without proof of identity.

The seven new Cemaes companies (pictured) all claim to have Hungarian directors and are believed to be based in seven fishermen’s houses on the same road

Experts say lax checks at Companies House, the government agency where businesses are registered, mean the creation of tens of thousands of ‘shell companies’ – and can be used by fraudsters and money launderers. Many use the addresses of people without their knowledge.

Clean landlords with no connection to the companies or their activities usually only find out that their premises have been registered as the headquarters of a new company when a letter arrives from Companies House.

The seven new Cemaes firms all claim to have Hungarian managers and are said to be based in seven fishermen’s houses on the same road.

The owners of three said their homes had been used without consent. Andy Rees, a pathology professor in Vienna, who uses his cottage in the UK, said it was a ‘total surprise’ that Akiaakiaa00 was registered there, adding: ‘I have absolutely no intention of create a zoo.”

A Mail on Sunday investigation may reveal that Cemaes, pictured, is the latest place to fall victim to a soft-touch system that allows anyone to set up a business in the UK without proof of identity

A Mail on Sunday investigation may reveal that Cemaes, pictured, is the latest place to fall victim to a soft-touch system that allows anyone to set up a business in the UK without proof of identity

Jim McNamara, 67, and his wife Joyce, 70, whose vacation home was used without permission, said: ‘It’s a shame they can do this. It scares us to death because there are so many stories of fraud.

Cemaes companies are among 17 companies registered with Hungarian directors last month for “activities of botanical and zoological gardens and nature reserves”.

They were discovered by fraud expert Graham Barrow, a former HSBC and Deutsche Bank investigator, who said: “Similar structures have been identified in money laundering schemes.”

UK company incorporation can help a person open a bank account anywhere in the world and provide a gateway to the global financial system.

Ministers intend to give Companies House the power to verify company information. A spokesperson said it referred potential fraud to law enforcement, adding: ‘At this time Companies House does not have statutory power to investigate fraud and verify the accuracy information provided by UK companies.”

A legitimate firm, registered with Cemaes last August, hopes to open a nature reserve. There is no suggestion of impropriety.