Predator: Irish businessman Gerard Walsh duped the Nolan family
The Mail on Sunday has unmasked a fraudster behind an action group which last summer won £200 million of taxpayers’ money in a settlement for small investors from RBS.
We can reveal that Irish businessman Gerard Walsh duped the Nolan family – who run a haulage business in the UK and Ireland – in a multi-million pound investment scam.
Family members are appalled that, given his record, Walsh went on to co-found the RBS Shareholders Action Group, which purported to represent thousands of small investors.
The Mail on Sunday can further reveal that Walsh was stripped of an honorary fellowship awarded by Cardiff University after he promised a £2.5 million donation that never materialised.
For several months, this newspaper has been investigating Walsh’s role at the RBS Shareholders Action Group. In that time, a troubling picture has emerged.
The Action Group was set up to fight for justice for innocent small investors, who were misled into buying shares in RBS during the Fred Goodwin era and lost large amounts of their savings as a result.
Those blameless small savers signed up to the RBS Shareholders Action Group in their thousands in the hope of receiving compensation.
They believed it was a public spirited organisation that would fight their cause against a greedy bank.
But so far the ordinary members have not received a penny – and Walsh is battling to claim millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money for himself via the RBS settlement.
The Nolan family from Wexford in Ireland, owns Nolan Transport
The Nolan family was horrified when Walsh’s involvement with the action group emerged after articles appeared in The Mail on Sunday.
A source close to the family said: ‘They are aghast and cannot believe his brass neck. It beggars belief. How come the Financial Conduct Authority and the other authorities are not homing in on him? He took millions from them and just disappeared. He just melted into the darkness.’
The family, from Wexford in Ireland, owns Nolan Transport. In late 2002, the family was introduced to Walsh, who appeared to be running a successful private investment business.
He apparently was backed by respected figures including George Mitchell, a former governor of the Bank of Scotland.
The Nolans trusted Walsh to invest millions of pounds on their behalf. Their money supposedly went into a string of legitimate investment schemes, including German nursing homes and a ferry company.
Victim: Amanda Forshall was defrauded out of £677,000 by Walsh
After a while Walsh failed to provide information about the supposed investments and began failing to turn up for meetings.
By 2006, the Nolans were seriously concerned and a year later Walsh offered them €43 million (£38 million at today’s exchange rate) as a final settlement for their investments. They accepted but the money never arrived.
The family fought a protracted legal battle in the Jersey Royal Court in 2014 in an attempt to recoup some of their losses. They sued companies and individuals associated with Walsh.
The court heard he had spent large parts of the money on himself – with £210,000 going towards paying a 10 per cent deposit on a luxury flat in London’s Belgravia. The court was told he spent £75,000 on three paintings and a further €22,000 was put towards buying a car for his children.
The ruling by the court concluded that by 2005 Walsh had become a ‘fraudster’ and by 2009 ‘his business empire had collapsed’.
The court awarded the Nolan family almost €15 million in damages. The sum is still outstanding.Friends of Walsh say he was neither a witness nor a defendant in the case and did not have an opportunity to contest its findings. However, his name was mentioned hundreds of times in the judgment.
The source close to the family added: ‘The Nolan family sees him as a predator and a serial fraudster on an epic scale. He is a person with delusions of grandeur and he is deeply dishonest.
‘The Nolans feel totally angry that this person has not been brought to justice by the relevant authorities. The last time the Nolans saw Mr Walsh was at a meeting they requested at his office in London. He walked out, they thought only for a moment, but he never came back.’
The court hearing in Jersey was the second major civil legal case to feature Walsh. The High Court of Ireland ruled in 1997 that Walsh was ‘guilty of fraudulent misrepresentation’ by posing as a Lamborghini salesman.
The court ruling shows that Walsh and others persuaded antiques dealer Amanda Forshall to part with £677,000 in 1990 for nine Lamborghini Diablo cars that were never delivered. Evidence given by Walsh and his co-defendants was rejected by the court as being neither ‘accurate’ nor ‘credible’. Forshall was awarded £677,000 in damages.
In the RBS Shareholders Action Group case, lawyers administering the claim are trying to prevent Walsh getting his hands on millions of pounds from the settlement.
Walsh is claiming this money via a secretive company set up to distribute more than £20 million to unidentified individuals and firms. His claim – for himself and his associates – is believed to be in excess of £10 million.
Some or all of this may be legitimate but the lawyers, Signature Litigation, are refusing to release any money until they are sure all amounts are justified.
Walsh is also a volunteer adviser to the separate RBS/GRG Business Action Group, which purports to represent more than 500 small businesses claiming to have been mistreated by the bank. Walsh denies all of the allegations and accused The Mail on Sunday of biased reporting
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