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Director involved in Dolphin Trust ‘Ponzi’ scandal left €6.2m in will


Dolphin Trust was headquartered in the German city of Hanover

Dolphin Trust was headquartered in the German city of Hanover

Dolphin Trust was headquartered in the German city of Hanover

A director of the controversial Wealth Options Trustees Ltd, the firm at the centre of the Dolphin Trust scandal, died leaving an estate worth €6.2m, the Irish Independent can reveal.

The late Paul Dunne, of Fortfield Road in Terenure, who was also a director of a special purpose vehicle that channelled money to the German property investment group behind the scandal, died on October 11, 2020, according to public records.

Dolphin Trust, which was renamed German Property Group (GPG), collapsed earlier that year with €1.5bn in savings from investors in Ireland, the UK and elsewhere, and little clarity on how much might be recovered.

Now documents which were lodged in August with the Probate Office show Mr Dunne left more than €6.2m in assets in his will following a lucrative career in private client wealth management. Wealth Options Trustees Limited (WOTL), which administered Irish investments in the failed venture, is already facing a High Court action by the Pensions Authority over how it allowed €66m of Irish pension money to end up in the unregulated German ‘Ponzi’ scheme.

Meanwhile, two of the investment vehicles set up by WOTL to funnel money into GPG are in liquidation, while German authorities are dealing with the insolvency of GPG – a national corporate fraud scandal on the scale of Wirecard, according to German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

The German home of Dolphin Trust founder Charles Smethurst was raided in a fraud investigation last March.

It is not clear yet whether Mr Dunne’s assets will be accessible to the liquidators or as compensation in other court actions, but the size of the estate is bound to raise questions from former clients who have been left out of pocket.

More than €100m of the money sunk into the bust investment fund came from small investors’ retail deposits and pension pots.

About €41m of that total passed through MUT 103, one of the investment vehicles set up by Mr Dunne and WOTL directors Brian Flynn and Éanna McCloskey.

It is understood that brokers that sold Dolphin Trust investments are prepared to put up money to help fund the liquidation of the vehicle, which is being undertaken by Myles Kirby of Kirby Healy chartered accountants. In an update on the liquidation to Irish investors and creditors last July, Mr Kirby queried the salaries, fees and expenses paid by the vehicle before it became insolvent.

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