The director claims he was the victim of a million dollar scam by a man posing as an "Irish Lord".

The director claims he was the victim of a million dollar scam by a man posing as an “Irish Lord”.

A French actor, author and film director claims he is the victim of an elaborate multi-million euro scam allegedly perpetrated by a man posing as an “Irish lord of an old family” and an expert in maritime law.

The allegation was made by solicitors representing Daniel (Dany) Boon, who obtained a High Court interim freezing order preventing Thierry Fialek-Birles aka Terry Birles aka Thierry Waterford-Mandeville and several companies he alleges either controls or theirs prevent ultimate beneficial owners from reducing their assets below a value of 6 million euros.

The defendants in the lawsuit are South Sea Merchant’s Mariners Ltd Partnership (SSMM), Hibernian Petroleum Limited Partnership, United Irish Estates Limited and Hibernian Yachts Company Limited, all of which are Irish registered companies, and Samoa registered United Far East Oriental Holdings (Samoa) Ltd.

Mr Boon’s lawyer, Rossa Fanning SC, told the court that his client was the victim of an “elaborate fraud” committed by Mr Birles, who told Mr Boon “lie after lie” about a variety of matters.

Mr Birles, the lawyer said, committed the fraud using a network of companies he appeared to have set up in Ireland and other jurisdictions and is someone who “goes under several different aliases”.

Mr Boon, who lives in Belgium, did not rush to court and applied for the freezing order after a thorough and professional investigation was conducted into Mr Birles and the defendants, the lawyer said.

Mr Fanning said Mr Boon, a keen yachtsman, hired Mr Birles last year on the recommendation of a mutual partner to help provide services for the actor’s yacht Umaren. Mr Birles is said to have advised him to use the Dublin registered SSMM.

Mr Birles had explained to Mr Boon that he was a partner in SSMM, which his family founded more than 100 years ago to provide specialist shipping services including maintenance and construction costs related to the yacht.

Mr Fanning, with Alison Keirse Bl hired by solicitors for McCann Fitzgeralds, said Mr Boon advanced more than €2.2million through SSMM to help cover the costs of running the yacht. The solicitor said Mr Boon had been led to believe that Mr Birles came from an ancient Irish family and believed he was a member of the Royal Cork Yacht Club.

investment plan

Mr Boon also claims Mr Birles told him last July about an investment plan with the Central Bank of Ireland that paid 3.25 per cent annual interest and was tax-free. The lawyer said Mr Boon had advanced 4.5 million euros of his funds to SSMM so that he could take part in the programme.

He claims that prior to this payment, Mr Boon was informed by Mr Birles that the SSMM had been taken over by an Italian family called Rossi and that he was staying as an adviser.

When Mr Boon requested his money back from the SSMM, he was told by a person claiming to be a member of the Rossi family that the money had been transferred to accounts in South Korea and Panama and that he would be reimbursed in due course. Despite his pleas, the SSMM has not returned his money, the lawyer said.

Mr Birles informed Mr Boon last November that the Rossi family had fired him as a consultant, owed him money and suggested suing the SSMM to get his €4.5m back. Mr. Boon accepted Mr. Birles’ version of events and still trusted him. His position changed after he received an anonymous tip from an individual who claimed to have also been a victim of a scam committed by Mr Birles, the lawyer said.

The lawyer said that after the tip-off, Mr Boon instructed lawyers to have the matter investigated.

From this investigation it emerged that the SSMM was a vehicle for fraud, that the Rossi family did not exist and that all news of them did in fact come from Mr Birles. In addition, the alleged investment plan with the Central Bank of Ireland is not real either, Mr Fanning said.

The lawyer said the investigation revealed that Mr Birles used various aliases, deceived others and was also believed to have spent some time in prison. According to the lawyer, Mr. Boon advanced Mr. Birles a total of 6.7 million euros between April and July last year.

Mr Boon does not know how much of the €2.2 million advanced in relation to the yacht was wasted, the lawyer said. The investigation revealed that there is no company that recommended Mr Birles to insure the yacht to which Mr Boon paid a five-figure premium.

Mr Birles, the lawyer said, had built up a complex network of companies in different countries, a large number of which appeared to be registered in Ireland. The company’s defendants have facilitated the fraud he alleges was committed by Mr Birles, the lawyer said.

Mr Birles also had a valuable property in Ireland, said to have been bought and refurbished with Mr Boon’s money, and a sailing boat called ‘Erin’ which is currently in jurisdiction to compete in sailing regattas in Co Cork.

The lawyer said Mr Boon had confronted Mr Birles about the allegations in a WhatsApp message in recent weeks. He withheld confrontation with the accused until the investigation was complete. However, Mr Boon has not received his money back, the lawyer said.

Significant Assets

Due to the existence of significant assets linked to the defendants in the jurisdiction, the lawyer said it had been decided to seek freezing orders from the Irish courts.

On Wednesday in the High Court, Judge Brian O’Moore granted Mr Boon an ex parte injunction preventing the defendants from reducing, moving or destroying their assets below a value of €6million.

The freeze order prevents Mr Birtles from moving the ‘Erin’ from her current location in Crosshaven. It also prevents the defendants from distributing or transferring funds in the SSMM’s bank accounts at Revolut, as well as accounts linked to the defendants in Panama and South Korea.

The order also prevents the defendants from selling or transferring property at Strand Street, Youghal, Co Cork, allegedly beneficially owned by Mr Birles, which Mr Boon believes was acquired with his money

Mr. Boon also obtained various disclosure orders, asking the defendants to provide him with various documents to establish where his money went.

The court imposed an embargo on the media covering the case until Thursday afternoon to give Mr Boon’s lawyers ample time to notify financial institutions of the lockdown order.

The matter will go back to court next week.

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