Saturday 18 November 2017

Psychic exposed as fraudster leaves trail of unpaid debts in UK

Simon Gold, also known as Niall O’Donoghue
Simon Gold, also known as Niall O’Donoghue

Eamon Dillon

A well-known Irish psychic has been exposed as a fraudster who has tricked dozens of people through a string of companies in Ireland and the UK.

Convicted criminal Simon Gold has now left a trail of unpaid debts in the UK where he fled after the Criminal Assets Bureau started a probe into his business dealings.

It comes as his five-year legal battle continues with CAB over almost €1m in a frozen bank account.

Gold, also known as Niall O'Donoghue, enjoyed a high profile in Ireland as an astrologer and tarot card reader before leaving for the UK.

Less well known was that he had a number of previous convictions for fraud and theft, both in Ireland and the UK.

His latest business venture, Gold Property Partners, is being investigated over various allegations according to former employees.

People had been hired on a commission-only basis but many were left unpaid despite months of work, according to the employees who claim they are owed thousands in wages.

A number of people were registered as directors of the firm without their knowledge, it has also been claimed.

UK police have questioned former employees about Gold's business activities.

At a recent High Court sitting, a CAB case involving one of Gold's Irish firms, Anglo Irish Global Ltd, was adjourned generally, which means it can still be re-entered.

A Garda spokesman declined to comment on the case, saying the force's National Economic Crime Bureau did not comment on "ongoing investigations".

In 2012, CAB froze part of a €1.6m transaction deposited in a bank account controlled by Gold, through Anglo Irish Global.

The transaction was at the centre of an international investigation by CAB into money-laundering practices.

The cash was alleged to have been the result of a fraud elsewhere in Europe, although Gold was not charged with any offences and denied any involvement in crime.

It had been sent to an account at the Allied Irish Bank in Navan which CAB claimed was controlled by Gold and opened using fake documents.

In supporting affidavits from CAB investigators, it was alleged that the cash had been generated through a fraudulent investment scheme offering 25pc returns.

The grounds for their belief that Gold was involved in criminal activity included his use of multiple addresses, identities and websites to carry out fraud.

They also claimed that Gold was connected to firms suspected "to have the sole function of fraudulent activities and subject to international warnings by regulatory agencies across the world".

An extra factor, according to CAB, was the "high number of previous convictions" in the UK and Ireland for deception and theft.

During the investigation, CAB searched a business premises in Kildare along with houses in Roscommon and Westmeath, seizing a computer and documents.

In a High Court case in 2015 over the search warrants, which he lost, Gold said all the business dealings were carried out "within the laws of the State".

His lawyers added that he had not been involved in "complex frauds" and was not prosecuted over false documents.

They said he "never knowingly became involved with any international criminal gang" and that his paperwork "proves this to be the case".

However, Gold continues to be the subject of investigations in both Ireland and the UK, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Gold is best known in Ireland for his firm Astrology Ireland, which once ran a premium telephone line that cost up to €2.90 a minute to call from a landline and up to €4 a minute from a mobile.

He did not respond to messages left on phone and email last week.

Sunday Independent

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