High court reporters
Well-known French film star Dany Boon has been allowed by the Irish High Court to add several additional entities as defendants to proceedings where he claims he is the victim of a multi-million-euro fraud.
Mr Boon claims the additional parties, which are located in the West Indies, the US, the Principality of Monaco and north Co Dublin are all linked to and controlled by the person he claims is behind the fraud allegedly committed against him.
In July lawyers representing Daniel or Dany Boon secured a High Court freezing order preventing Thierry Fialek-Birles aka Terry Birles aka Thierry Waterford-Mandeville and several corporate entities he allegedly either controls or is the ultimate beneficial owner of from reducing their assets below a value of €6 million.
Mr Boon also secured various disclosure orders requiring the defendants to provide him with various documentation, in an attempt to ascertain where his money has gone.
The new defendants in the action are the US-registered American Sail & Motor Navigation Inc, Amalgamated Plantations Company Ltd, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands, Asia Monao Investments Ltd with an address in Lusk, Co Dublin, Asia Monaco registered in Monaco, and Sail & Motor Navigation Company Limited in Antigua and Barbuda.
They now join South Sea Merchant's Mariners Ltd Partnership (SSMM), Hibernian Petroleum Limited Partnership, United Irish Estates Limited and Hibernian Yachts Company Limited which are all Irish-registered entities, and the Samoa-registered United Far East Oriental Holdings (Samoa) Ltd as corporate defendants in the action.
When the matter returned before Mr Justice Brian O'Moore on Tuesday, Rossa Fanning SC for Mr Boon said that arising out of further investigations his client was seeking to add five additional defendants, all allegedly linked to Mr Birles are based in several different jurisdictions to the action.
Counsel said that in addition to adding those entities his client was seeking orders including freezing orders and disclosure orders against the new defendants.
Counsel added his client had also become concerned about other information it has received. Counsel said an attempt was apparently being made by Mr Birles to set up a trust in favour of the defendant, in the Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis.
Counsel said that his side was recently made aware of an alleged plan to take a Cork-based sailing boat, linked to Mr Birles, that was the subject of the freezing order.
That vessel, counsel said, had been moved by Mr Boon's solicitors and has had security placed on it.
Counsel said that while it had initially appeared that the defendants would defend the action it now appeared as the defendants' solicitors had come off record it appeared the proceedings will not be contested.
His client was therefore going to seek judgment against all of the defendants in the High Court.
This, counsel said would give Mr Boon enforceable options against the defendants' assets in other jurisdictions.
Mr Justice O'Moore made various orders allowing Mr Boon's lawyers serve notice of the proceedings on the new foreign based defendants.
The judge further granted temporary freezing orders against the new defendants, in similar terms to the orders made against the other defendants.
The Judge adjourned the matter to a date later this month.
Mr Boon claims that he is the victim of "a systemic and elaborate fraud with an international dimension".
He alleges that last year he advanced monies to entities linked to Mr Birles, whom it is alleged had represented himself to be an "Irish Lord from an ancient family" and an expert lawyer in maritime law.
Mr Boon claims that based on Mr Birles advice that in July 2021 he invested €4.5 million of his money through SSMM in a scheme with the Irish Central Bank he alleges Mr Birles told him paid 3.25 per cent annual interest that was tax-free.
Mr Boon subsequently discovered that no such scheme exists and, despite making several requests, the funds have not been returned to him.
Mr Boon also claims that he advanced a further €2.2 million, through SSMM, to cover the costs of running yacht but does not yet know how much of that sum has been misappropriated.
SSMM is the entity which Mr Birles claims he paid €6.7 million to for various purposes, but alleges it was used by Mr Birles to defraud him.
Mr Birles has claimed that he sold his interest in that company to an Italian family with the surname 'Rossi'.
This is disputed and Mr Boon's lawyers say that the Rossi family do not exist.
In July the judge granted Mr Boon a freezing or Mareva-type injunction restraining the defendants from reducing, moving or dissipating any of their assets below a value of €6 million.
The freezing order prevents Mr Birtles from moving a sailboat he allegedly owns called the 'Erin' from its current location at Crosshaven in Co Cork.
The order also prevents the defendants from dissipating or transferring funds allegedly held in various bank accounts.
The order further restrains the defendants from disposing or transferring a property located at Strand Street, Youghal, Co Cork allegedly beneficially owned by Mr Birles, that Mr Boon believes was acquired with his money.
It is claimed Mr Birles, a French citizen aged in his thirties, allegedly committed the fraud by using a network of companies he had appeared to have established in Ireland and other jurisdictions.
He brought proceedings after Mr Birles was investigated by a firm hired by the plaintiff, after his efforts to have his monies returned to him by SSMM were unsuccessful and after he received a tip-off about Mr Birles' activities.