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‘Scam’ cash unlikely to be returned

Creditors in the company run by a businessman at the centre of a suspected multi-million pound investment scam are unlikely to get their money back in full, the High Court heard yesterday.

The prediction came as a winding up petition against Francois de Dietrich's firm ETIC Solutions Ltd was put on hold.

A judge adjourned the application after being told one creditor in the Republic has already obtained an order for €165,000 (£146,000) from the company.

With a further hearing in Dublin in May to decide whether to confirm that judgment, his legal representatives urged the court not to take any steps which could impact on the case.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has already been granted permission to appoint provisional liquidators to ETIC Solutions.

That was seen as helping to protect creditors in the company headed by de Dietrich, whose whereabouts have remained unknown since he was ordered to serve a prison sentence for contempt of court.

The Donegal-based Frenchman is appealing against an 18-month jail term for failing to fully disclose his worldwide assets.

Although a warrant was issued for his arrest, de Dietrich appears to have gone missing.

Court proceedings launched by the FSA led to an injunction banning de Dietrich and his company ETIC Solutions from taking any more deposits.

The regulatory body also obtained an initial order freezing more than £20m in assets.

He has insisted in a statement that his businesses were legitimate and that he was working to return all outstanding money.

FSA lawyers who applied to have ETIC Solutions wound-up argued that no adjournment should be granted because the move would be limited to funds in Northern Ireland.

Stephen Shaw QC said: “On any reading... it looks as if there will not be complete recovery of the monies that have been advanced.”

Granting the adjournment until after the Dublin hearing in May, Mr Justice Deeny said: “It is preferable that the courts on both sides of the border act in recognition of one another's orders.”

Belfast Telegraph