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'I don't have Moroccan millions,' says Morris

THE man behind Simple Overseas Properties discovered that life was far from simple when he read in a newspaper that there was a warrant out for his arrest.

Karl Morris, who operated a Moroccan property scheme, says he is "going bankrupt at the moment" -- but claims that he does not have the millions he says clients are now trying to recoup from him.

"I have spent the last three years on a €3.5m claim against a developer. If I go bankrupt, I won't be allowed to be a director and the claim will fold," said Mr Morris, who claimed that he was speaking from South Africa.

Last week, he and his wife Denise appeared in court in Fuengirola, Spain, on charges of misappropriating clients' money. The charges were struck out.

Mr Morris has an address in Schull, Co Cork, but has been living in Mijas, Spain, for the last 10 years with his wife and the couple's three children.

He says he was "devastated" by a front page in the Sun with the headline: "Hunt on for cash runner", which showed pictures of him and claimed that he had "vanished" with €1.1m of clients' money for a development in Morocco.

Mr Morris said the first he knew of the warrant was when a friend rang him from Ireland and read him the Sun report.

"Myself and Denise presented ourselves voluntarily to the courts as soon as we were made aware of the detention order and we responded to all allegations. The detention order related to €85,000, not the €3m that the newspaper claimed," said Mr Morris.

He said that if he had anything to hide, he would not have presented himself before the Spanish courts.

"I'm devastated at the way my wife, family and extended family have been subjected to unfounded allegations in recent weeks. I want to clear my name," he said yesterday.

Mr Morris also said that his wife had been woken in the middle of the night and a torch had been shone on her when she went to the window of their house.

"I don't have their money. The contract that I signed said it would be passed to the developer and that is where it is. I'm trying to get it back, but I don't have it," he insisted.

More than 70 Irish investors gave Simple Overseas Properties deposits of between €18,000 and €60,000 for apartments in a golf and beach resort in Tangier -- but the money now appears to have gone.

It is believed that a claim for €1.1m in deposits has been lodged against the company by up to 40 investors in the High Court in Dublin.

The other director of Simple Overseas Properties, Georgina Cooke of Cabinteely, Co Dublin, resigned from the company last December.

According to documents lodged in the court in Feungirola on behalf of William and Joan Butler, Joseph O'Reilly and others, a request was made that Morris surrender his passport and give an undertaking that he would not leave Spain.

The petition was denied on the grounds that there was "no escape risk" as Mr Morris's children were in school in Marbella and he had a home and business interests in Spain.

Sunday Independent