A member of the Nolan Transport family of Wexford, who are suing over the 2013 loss of almost €7m in pension funds, told the High Court that he fully trusted lawyer Ciaran Desmond when he suggested withdrawing the funds from Ireland to a deposit account. the lawyer had in Switzerland.
Richard Nolan said that two years later, when family members accused Mr. Desmond of stealing the money, the lawyer blamed “the banks” for the loss. He added that Mr. Desmond protested “I am an honest man” and that he too had been “wronged”.
The court heard the idea of transferring Nolan’s pension fund, held by Oakland Property Trust, abroad after a crisis family meeting in 2012 when AIB asked for immediate repayment of several loans.
As one of the largest trucking companies in Europe, with 900 employees, family members were concerned about the business, which was founded by his father James and his wife more than 50 years ago.
Richard Nolan and his fellow trustees, on behalf of the 13 family members, claim the misappropriation of almost €7 million from their €13 million pension fund by their former solicitor, Mr. Desmond, partner manager at McGuire Desmond, Cork, before he was forced out in 2017.
His case is also against two companies and his former financial adviser, John Millett of John Millett Independent Financial Advisors, Dublin and Mr. Millett’s associated pension investment company, Pinnacle Pensioner Trustees.
Another aspect of the dispute is the claim by three men (Paul, Dillon and Darren Kenny) that they own the former Nemo Rangers’ land in Cork which the Nolans say they own because some €2m of their embezzled money were used to buy that land
The defendants strongly deny the claims.
Yesterday, Richard Nolan said that the idea of transferring pension funds was first raised at the 2012 crisis family meeting where he said Mr. Desmond “calmed the waters” and assured them that individual members of the family could have a case against AIB for the loans.
During this meeting, the subject of the family pension fund was raised and Mr. Desmond began to talk about the instability of Irish banks.
Nolan said Desmond told them: “We needed to move the boarding house to a safe place and he talked about Switzerland being safe.”
Desmond suggested that the money be deposited in a Swiss deposit account.
The court heard that there were five transfers totaling around €5 million to the Swiss account and another for €2 million to a company called Dildar Isle of Man for the purchase of the Nemo Rangers site, but from which Nolan He said he didn’t know anything.
By mid-2014, Nolan was seriously concerned about pension fund money, and attempts to get information from Desmond and Millett were difficult. He said that in one meeting, Mr. Desmond was “physically wobbly and very nervous.” The case continues next week.