Extent of apparent 'classic Ponzi' revealed

Published: 6 Sep 2012 13:00

Fermanagh people who poured tens of thousands of pounds of their savings into a suspected Ponzi have lost most of their money.

Francois de Deitrich.

One Irvinestown businessman pumped £116,000 into the County Donegal-based scheme, which offered returns of up to 40 per cent in just six weeks.

In fact it appears to have been a Ponzi, where the returns paid to investors are from their own money, or money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from any actual profit earned.

The full extent of the scheme operated by Frenchman Francois de Dietrich through his company, ETIC Solutions Ltd., has only now been made public.

Following a meeting of creditors in Monaghan at the end of July, PWC (Price Waterhouse Coppers), the official liquidators of ETIC Solutions, has revealed that 576 people invested almost 20 million euro in the scheme.

It also confirmed that it "found no evidence that the company performed any genuine business activity".

"Indications that 'profits', referred to in correspondence from the company and received by investors, were not genuine and were actually the capital other investors had invested," PWC stated.

In other words it appears to have been a classic Ponzi.

De Dietrich has insisted the business was legitimate.

Of the 576 people who invested in ETIC Solutions, only 389 have declared an interest in getting their money back.

PWC does not say how many of the investors were from Fermanagh but one high street bank has revealed that of the 20 of its customers who put money into ETIC Solutions, eight were from Fermanagh.

"And that is only the tip of the iceberg," according to one investigator.

"A lot of greedy businessmen around Fermanagh thought their golden goose had landed and they have lost an awful lot of money," he added.

PWC has spent 18 months trying to track down the missing millions. So far it has seized cash to the value of 7.6 million euro, or just over £6 million.

It estimates that this will result in investors getting an interim payment of 20p for every £1 they invested. They are due to receive the money from early next year.

The 187 investors who have not yet come forward will not get any money back.

De Dietrich enticed people to invest in his business, ETIC Solutions Limited, based at an office in Ballyboffey, with the promise they would make up to 40 per cent profit in the space of six weeks.

Those caught up in the scheme included a PSNI detective, gardai, accountants, solicitors, developers and members of the travelling community.

De Dietrich fled Ireland two years ago, when the authorities froze his accounts and shut down the scheme.

Since then investors have been waiting to get their money back.

Last January the businessman was sentenced to 18 months in jail for contempt at Belfast High Court, after he defied a court order to stop taking new deposits from investors.

When he did not turn up for the hearing a warrant was issued for his arrest.

His appeal against the sentence was dismissed by the Court of Appeal in January.

PWC liquidator Paul Rooney said: "In 2008, 2009, we had the perfect storm of an economic recession and a banking crisis. People were unsure where to put their money.

"Perhaps an opportunity of an investment, and an early investment, was taken and the implications and ramifications of that are now being felt, not just from a financial perspective, but from the human and indeed the families affected," Mr Rooney said.

Not everyone who invested in the scheme lost money - 81 people made a profit.

They cashed in before the scheme collapsed and shared just over £6 million.

Meanwhile, de Dietrich is still a wanted man on both sides of the Border.

The PSNI and gardai both want to question him about the case.

Jump to first paragraph.

Get more stories from our Roundup section

17 Apr 2014 13:11

No referendum on fracking at Council elections

Fermanagh District Council is unlikely to hold a fracking referendum after legal advice has recommended against it.

Social:

17 Apr 2014 13:01

Woman who tried to give man love bite guilty of sexual assault

A 47-year-old woman has been convicted of sexually assaulting a young man after she allegedly “forced” herself on him, grabbing him by the bum and telling him she loved him.

Social:

17 Apr 2014 11:45

St. Patrick's Day crash led driver to court

A 42-year-old driver who failed to stop after crashing into a car on a bridge on St. Patrick’s Day was three times the legal alcohol limit.

Social:

17 Apr 2014 10:00 • Editorial Department

Inside today's paper

Clerics attend Queen’s banquet: Praise for their cross-community work

Social: Comments0 comments

17 Apr 2014 09:48

Sharpe names Premier 18 for Milk Cup

Fermanagh Premier Milk Cup manager Derek Sharpe has named his 18 man squad for this summer's competition.

Social:

17 Apr 2014 09:15

Men arrested in connection with security alert charged with theft

THE two men arrested in connection with a security alert in Fintona on Tuesday this week have been charged with Theft and Going Equipped for Theft

Social:

17 Apr 2014 09:00

Schoolgirl chef makes it to Fine Dine final

A local pupil has been named a finalist in this year's Fine Dine at Mine All-Ireland Schools Cookery Competion.

Social:

16 Apr 2014 22:30 • Editorial Department

In tomorrow's Impartial Reporter read:

How a woman has been convicted of sexually assaulting a man after touching him and trying to give him a love bite.

Social: Comments0 comments

16 Apr 2014 19:30

Arrest warrant for convicted shoplifter

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a 33-year-old convicted shoplifter.

Social:

16 Apr 2014 17:00

Driver convicted of possession of drug after cannabis was found in car

The 32-year-old driver of a car from which there was a strong smell of cannabis has admitted unlawfully having the Class B drug.

Social:

16 Apr 2014 15:00 • Editorial Department

Comment - Shona Morrison - Feeling blue over the lack of support for autism awareness

Our wee county of Fermanagh has a great deal going for it right now.

Social: Comments0 comments

16 Apr 2014 12:20

Police probe confrontation between cyclists and motorist

A man was reportedly assaulted during a confrontation between a motorist and a group of cyclists on the Sligo Road in Enniskillen.

Social:

16 Apr 2014 09:00

Local politicians meet Creamery officials to discuss closure

Ulster Unionist Assembly member for Fermanagh & South Tyrone, Tom Elliott MLA, and local Councillors, Robert Mulligan and Neil Somerville have met with the management of Fivemiletown Creamery to highlight their concerns over the closure of the creamery.

Social:

15 Apr 2014 22:00

Man took wife's car without permission

A 35-year-old man has been fined £425 and banned from driving for three months after he took his wife’s car without her permission.

Social:

15 Apr 2014 19:00

Police asking for your help with road safety through social media

Police in Fermanagh and other parts of F District are asking everyone who uses the roads to promote safety messages through social media over the next three Bank Holiday Mondays.

Social:

15 Apr 2014 15:00 • Editorial Department

Opinion - Kylie Noble - Can’t stand the rain? Thank heavens for our water supply

In Fermanagh I don’t think there is anything that causes so much anger and frustration than the weather; specifically the abundance of rain.

Social: Comments0 comments

15 Apr 2014 13:00

Hospital detention order against mentally ill man on attempted murder charge

A mentally ill man who bludgeoned his elderly uncle over the head with a hammer until he thought he was dead has been committed to hospital indefinitely.

Social:

15 Apr 2014 11:30

Don't forget to recycle your Easter egg packaging

Enjoying your chocolate egg but don't know what to do with the packaging?

Social:

15 Apr 2014 09:00

Homes evacuated in security alert in Fintona

POLICE are dealing with a security alert in Fintona, County Tyrone, after an incident in the early hours of this morning (Tuesday).

Social:

14 Apr 2014 22:00

Businessman failed to demolish apartments

A 44-year-old businessman has been fined £500 for failing to knock down a block of apartments that pose a danger to drivers.

Social: