Andrea BergerLord of the Spies

At CNS we are fortunate to have a stellar group of young researchers, who in the course of their research come up with some really interesting insights into the issues we work on. The post below is courtesy of Olivia Vassalotti, one of our DC-based specialists working on North Korea. It’s weird, wonderful and well worth a read.   

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When you do investigative research into North Korean networks you periodically stumble upon some wonderful gems – a quirky story of how a North Korean business partnership blossomed, the screw ups that led to a North Korean arms trader sitting in jail in Utah, etc. Cases that you read about and think, ‘you couldn’t even make this up.’

Well, let me tell you the story of the man purporting to be the DPRK Honorary Consul in Helsinki.

As an opening caveat, note that everything that follows is from open sources, and therefore is only part of the full picture (though I imagine it gets even better with more detail). We have no evidence that the supposed Honorary Consul has done anything illegal, nor can we confirm that he is even the Honorary Consul. But if nothing else, I hope the tale brings you the same joy that the Chonji Lubricant Factory brings Kim Jong Un:

First, meet Anthony Croft, or the person I suspect is Anthony Croft:

Anthony goes by many names. Companies House, the UK’s corporate registry, records identify him as Anthony Croft, Lord Croft, and Dr. Lord Croft. Various social media accounts and webpages identify him as Lord Anthony Edward Alexander Croft, Anthony Edward Croft, Dr. Alexander Croft, Alexander Croft, Tony Weckström, and Tony Edward Alexander Weckström. I will continue to refer to him as Lord Croft because I think it has a nice ring to it.

According to a LinkedIn page for the “Consulate-General of the DPRK – Helsink [sic],” Lord Croft is the Honorary Consul-General for the DPRK in the country. However, the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website suggests no such DPRK representative is accredited in Finland. A FourSquare account for an Alexander Croft shows him checking into the “DPRK Consul’s Residence” in Helsinki, Finland more than 100 times since November 2016. A description posted with an image of the alleged Consul’s private residence says people can pick up their North Korean visas there. The image below shows what is supposedly the Honorary Consulate: a bookshelf.

Source: https://foursquare.com/v/dprk-consuls-residense/582e4d4d5d6ec6451e354733

Beyond the alleged DPRK ties, Lord Croft seems to fancy himself a British spy. His Twitter handle is “@VauxhallCross85,” a reference to MI6 headquarters. Lord Croft also had an Estonian company (the company is a former secretary for two of his UK companies, and he is identified by name and birthdate) whose contact information includes, but is not limited to, “croft@mi5.fi” and “croft@uk-gov.us.“ Last, but certainly not least, an Instagram account appearing to belong to Lord Croft contains what looks to be a fake HM Secret Intelligence Service dossier on an Anthony Croft. The Instagram also shows an image of an Air Koryo plane, rounding out his apparent affinity for North Korea.

A look at the registration for his web of corporations, which includes at least seven companies in several jurisdictions, suggests Lord Croft also has an affinity for Hollywood and a humorous habit of using celebrity names in his various companies. A company called RPW Holdings, a current secretary for one of Croft’s UK firms, gives an address of “C/O Mr. Robert Williams…”. Robbie Williams is a British entertainer and coincidentally the Twitter picture for the @VauxhallCross85 account. Another secretary for the company, Appian Way, gives the address “C/O Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio…,” in Los Angeles, California. Yet another secretary, supposedly named Daniel Wroughton Craig, is listed. That’s right, the James Bond.

It continues. Metherine Cryptocurrencies listed Claire Foy as a secretary for approximately two weeks in February 2018. Last, but certainly not least, Metherine Cryptocurrencies is a secretary for newly-formed Mining Consortium Ltd. Emilia Isabelle Euphemia Rose Clarke is listed as a secretary. Bet you didn’t think Lord Croft knew the Mother of Dragons, did you?

Obviously, I don’t think Lord Croft knows all of these celebrities, nor do I think they’re involved with the Honorary DPRK Consul-General or any of the other entities mentioned. That being said, how was Lord Croft able to register so many of these people as company officers in Europe and the UK, which has supposedly been prioritizing efforts to make its registry more transparent and accurate? Did anyone do due diligence on this guy at all?

This question becomes even more important when you consider that Croft has on several occasions directly claimed affiliations between his companies and foreign governments. The Russian Embassy in Helsinki was a secretary for Croft Company UK Limited from 10 January 2018 – 8 February 2018. The Finnish registration number given for this entity is a match for the Russian Embassy registered in Helsinki.

Metherine Cryptocurrencies Ltd, one of Lord Croft’s other former UK companies, is located at an address previously used by Lord Croft himself and is associated with a number of other companies in his larger network. The Embassy of the Russian Federation was listed as Metherine Cryptocurrencies’ secretary for only two days in February 2015. The Finnish registration number given here was the same as the one given in the case of Croft Company UK Limited. This, in conjunction with the presence of a Yuri Kovalchuk as one of the current secretaries, raises some red flags. It cannot be determined that this Yuri Kovalchuk and the OFAC-sanctioned Yuri Kovalchuk are the same, but it certainly requires further scrutiny.

The British Embassy in Helsinki also took a turn as secretary for Metherine Cryptocurrencies from 3 February 2018 – 7 February 2018, overlapping with the Russian Embassy for several days. The address and name given for the embassy match that of the British embassy in Helsinki and the Ambassador. The Finnish registration number listed is also a match for the actual British Embassy in Helsinki.
Several of the names listed as secretaries for Metherine Cryptocurrencies also correspond to those of high-level officials in the United Arab Emirates, though I can’t rule out that this is coincidence.

But why stop at drawing links with real countries, when you can make them up entirely? The last chapter in this abridged tale involves Croft’s links to the fictional nations of Talossa, the Republic of New Texas, and the Republic of Mirage Islands.
A wiki page for the fictional nation of Talossa describes a Tony Weckström that acted as Talossa’s Ambassador to Finland during his time with the country. The page notes that Weckström often used the aliases Lord Anthony Edward Croft and Edward Croft.

He is also associated with two other fictional micronations – the Republic of New Texas and the Republic of Mirage Islands. A page describing the Republic of Mirage Islands quotes an “Honourable Reverend Croft,” (yet another title) naming him as the country’s diplomatic officer to the Nordic Region. He is also quoted as saying he has used a diplomatic passport from the Mirage Islands, though it is unclear where such a document may have been accepted.

Croft’s is a tantalizing tale of international intrigue. While he lacks the subtlety of a British spy, he certainly has built himself quite the transnational corporate network. As James Bond would say, “everybody needs a hobby.”

Comments

  1. cthippo (History)

    Can you please explain the secretary relationship in British law? I’m not familiar with that term.

    That said, sounds like another person with delusions of grandeur amplifying themselves on the internet. I’d there any evidence he has any actual links to the government’s mentioned? After all, on the Internet no one knows you’re a dog.

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