Investors win right for Irish bank worker to give evidence

A group of investors suing in the US courts over losses they claimed were caused following the collapse of Bernard Madoff’s investment companies have got the go-ahead of the High Court to have an Irish bank employee give evidence in their action.

A court in New York was yesterday granted permission to take evidence from a witness in a case brought over the alleged negligent operation and management of Optimal Strategic US Equity Ltd Fund, which is based in the Bahamas.

The investors claim their money was invested by the fund with Bernard L Madoff Investment Services LLC. Their money disappeared after Madoff was exposed as running a ponzi scheme.

Yesterday at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Michael Peart granted orders allowing lawyers involved in the US proceedings take evidence from David Nolan, head of the investor services department of HSBC Securities Services Ireland Ltd, Grand Canal Square, Dublin.

It is claimed in the US action that HSBC Securities Services Ireland served as the administrators of the Optima US fund. As they claim Mr Nolan may be the most knowledgeable person in this regard, lawyers asked the court for an order allowing him give oral testimony.

Seeking the order Patrick O’Reilly said the US proceedings form part of a proposed class action taken by the investors against Spanish banking group Banco Santander, Optimal Investment Services and Jonathan Clark, an employee of Optimal Investment Services.

The investors claim they purchased shares in Optimal. But they allege their money was invested with the Madoff-owned firm. When his ponzi scheme was revealed in 2008, the fund collapsed.

The investors, from Israel, Panama the Channel Islands as well as the US, claim the defendants failed to perform due diligence on Madoff and his firm causing them loss, despite making representations to the contrary and charging management fees of millions per year.

They further allege the defendants committed fraud, breached their fiduciary duty, gross negligence, unjust enrichment and negligence misrepresentation. The defendants deny all the claims against them. Counsel said it is intended that Mr Nolan beexamined before Eileen Barrington at a date in April.

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