Legal advice sought after TV show allegation

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Dennis Lavin, managing director of Chiltern, on the Esplanade, says the Panorama programme entitled The Price of Blood, screened on 8 October, was an ‘unfair representation of the facts’.

Mr Lavin, who recently moved to live in Jersey from the Isle of Man, is one of a private consortium which recently acquired the private client business from Chiltern plc.

The new firm, which employs up to 50 staff in Jersey, is about to be rebranded as Vistra Trust and Corporate Services.

The Panorama programme – which has since been published on the BBC website – focuses on Mr Mills’s activities in 1993 and 1994 when he ran a London management firm, CMM.

It alleges that Italian clients, the Marcucci family, concealed sales of contaminated human blood through a web of offshore accounts – including a Channel Island company, Sarafia Ltd, with Sark directors – set up by CMM, Mr Mills’s company.

Mr Lavin became a director of that company in 1994 after CMM was acquired by Edsaco, which at that time was a subsidiary of Cantrade Bank.

Mr Mills stayed on as a director.

Panorama alleges that Mr Lavin’s signature was on a contract backdated to get around the Italian public health law.

It also alleges that he ordered a ‘mystery payment’ of $274,500 from a BVI company, Padmore, into Mr Mills’s company’s client account.

Mr Lavin says he was advised not to speak to the Panorama programme makers.

However, the broadcast includes a reconstruction of an interview which Mr Lavin gave to Italian investigator Major Marco Tripodi, in which he is alleged to have said that the Padmore file was ‘sucked out’ of his office window in a storm.

In a statement this week Chiltern in Jersey said: ‘We have investigated the case in depth and have not found any wrongdoings by Dennis.

‘The company is of the opinion that the programme was sensationalist and unsubstantiated.

It should be noted that the matters took place 13 years ago and most importantly Dennis was only a witness in this case and he has never been investigated himself.

This important fact was not made clear in the programme.

‘He provided all information to the relevant prosecutor to the satisfaction of the relevant authorities.

Any allegations, expressed or implied in the programme, are denied by Dennis and the company.

‘We are taking legal advice on this matter and therefore cannot comment further.

We would like to express that we have full confidence in Dennis.

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