High court reporters
Nolan Transport's former solicitor Ciaran Desmond has consented to judgment against him for €6.9 million over the alleged misappropriation of their pension funds, the High Court heard.
While it brings an end to the Nolan family’s case against Mr Desmond, other strands of the proceedings may continue on Wednesday.
Mr Desmond said, in a statement presented to the court on Tuesday, that the scheme which led to the alleged loss of the pension funds was originally designed to shelter their funds from creditors who were calling in the Nolan family debts.
Swiss bank account
In order to achieve this, he said, it was necessary to disassociate the funds from its owners involving the setting up of a Swiss bank account so that the Nolan debts could be bought at a discount by an entity not linked to the Nolans, he also claimed.
Mr Desmond denied any wrongdoing and blamed a number of other parties including bankers and people who were to get involved in a convoluted and unprotected $100 million (€95 million) investment scheme for which part of the Nolan funds had been used without the family’s knowledge.
Although the case against Mr Desmond has ended, he may still be called as a witness if the remaining parts of the Nolan proceedings continue.
Those are primarily against Dublin pension adviser John Millett, two of Mr Millett's companies and three men who claim they are the beneficial owners of the former Nemo Rangers development land in Cork, which the Nolans say was bought with €2.8 million of their pension funds without their knowledge.
Isle of Man company
The three men are Paul Kenny, his son Dillon Kenny and Paul's nephew Darren Kenny, who say they are owners through an Isle of Man company called Dildar which owns the Nemo lands. The Kennys are counterclaiming against the Nolans and Mr Millett denies the claims.
A number of foreign-based companies, EFG Bank AG in Switzerland, BNP Paribas Wealth Management of Singapore, United Overseas Bank Ltd, Singapore, and Allied Finance Trust AG of Zurich, along with a number of individuals, are third parties in the case.
Following talks on Tuesday, Martin Hayden SC, for Mr Desmond, said judgment on consent for the entire €6.9 million could be entered against his client with a stay on execution for six months. This could be extended depending on progress in proceedings involving third parties, he said.
Mr Justice Denis McDonald adjourned the case until Wednesday to allow Mr Millett, who is representing himself, to consider what happened in the case against Mr Desmond. There may also be an application by the Kenny defendants to strike out the entire case.
Visit to Zurich
Before the adjournment, Richard Nolan, who was central to the 2013 discussions with Mr Desmond about the scheme to protect the pension funds as the banks were closing in on Nolan debts, told the court of a difficult visit to Zurich in January 2015 to find out where the funds were.
He said as a result of trying to get information, he and his sister Patricia were escorted by two Swiss police from the Zurich offices of Allied Finance Trust, a UAE-registered private financial advisor associated with John Millett.
Mr Nolan said this followed their arrival at the AFT offices where they were told the right to monitor their funds while they were in Mr Desmond's Swiss account, had just been revoked.
They then called to the EFG Bank in Zurich, where Mr Desmond's account was held in the name of a Panama-registered company, to be told that he (Richard Nolan) was never a signatory on the account. "I was horrified, I was absolutely shocked", he said.
When the two Nolans returned to Ireland they went straight to Mr Desmond's offices, where initially gardaí were called but soon left, and Mr Desmond eventually "made his confession". He "admitted having used our funds as an investment without our knowledge and he told us the banks had taken our money and it was the banks' fault".
A meeting with John Millett a few days later in Mr Millett's Dublin offices was "surreal", Mr Nolan said.
"I just realised I had been set up and groomed in terms of our funds," he said.
As Mr Millett was a pension trustee, they asked why he had not informed them their money had been invested. "He said he did not want to bother us and we were just horrified by it all", he said.
By the middle of 2015, the Nolans had found another lawyer and proceedings followed.