A FRENCH businessman in Donegal has promised to repay the scores of people who claim they have lost fortunes in a controversial investment scheme.
The scheme was operated by Francois De Dietrich, a high-profile entrepreneur who was recently elected head of his local Lions Club and was presented with an enterprise award by Taoiseach Brian Cowen two years ago. The Frenchman's assets were frozen by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in Northern Ireland, and the gardai and PSNI are investigating the scheme. Mr De Dietrich had promised investors generous returns on capital to buy liquidated stock.
In a statement quoted by the BBC on Friday, Mr De Dietrich blamed the financial authorities for the forced closure of his business.
The statement added: "The FSA action has left me unable to trade, which led to the loss of many jobs.
"Despite the FSA action we are committed to working with our customers regarding a full return of outstanding monies.
"The matter is before the court and will be decided upon in due course."
Mr De Dietrich's company, ETIC Solutions, a business management firm based in Ballybofey, is believed to have closed a week ago with the loss of five jobs.
One investor, Alison Carter who owns a cafe in Letterkenny, fears she has lost €50,000 in the scheme.
"He told me he was selling liquidated stock at a considerable profit and said I would get a 20 per cent return on my investment," she said.
She claimed that Mr De Dietrich has not returned her calls.