A former psychic has been convicted by a jury of the theft and money laundering of €1.6m.
Simon Gold (aged 54) with an address of Augharan, Aughavas, Co. Leitrim, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 22 charges including money laundering, theft, deception and control of false instruments on dates between January 1, 2010, and October 22, 2012.
After over two weeks of evidence, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on 20 counts after deliberating for more than 12 hours.
The jury returned a verdict of not guilty on a single count of deception relating to €28,000 transferred by Justin Burke, a farmer from Co. Galway, to a bank account linked to Gold.
Judge Martin Nolan thanked the jury for their service. He remanded Gold in custody and adjourned the matter for sentencing on July 31, next.
During the trial, the jury heard that Gold represented himself as a highly qualified financier, merchant banker or financial consultant.
It was the State's case that four Irish men who were unable to secure bank loans as a result of the global financial crisis approached Gold seeking loans of large sums of money.
Lorcan Staines SC, prosecuting, told the jury that in 2011 these men were deceived into transferring what they believed were down payments into bank accounts controlled by Gold in order to secure the loans.
The men gave evidence of transferring a total of €28,000 and £50,000 into bank accounts linked to Gold. None of the loans ever came through for them.
Kurt Lauridsen, a Danish businessman, said he transferred two tranches of €800,000 in October 2012, into what he thought was a bank account controlled by himself and his lawyer, but was, in fact, an Ulster Bank account in Dublin controlled by Gold.
He said he was later contacted by gardaí and informed that the account had been frozen.
In an interview with gardaí, Gold agreed that he had dispersed some of the funds into various accounts, including into an account in the name of Niall O'Donoghue.
The jury heard that Gold also accepted he used the names Simon Gold, Simon Gould, Simon Magnier and Niall O'Donoghue and acknowledged he is responsible for an Ulster Bank account in the name of Anglo Irish Global Ltd.
According to the minutes of a meeting between Gold and Ulster Bank officials after his bank account was frozen, Gold said he had done nothing wrong or criminal. He said that “if this was the case he would be the stupidest money launderer ever”.
The jury heard Gold agreed during interview with gardaí that he used a false ESB bill to open the account for Anglo Irish Global Ltd. He also agreed in the interview he used a false UK driving licence to purchase a computer from Harvey Norman.
Detective Garda Deirdre Heenehan testified that during their investigations gardaí seized a laptop which contained a number of audio recordings which she said were relevant to the case.
On a recording made on October 15, 2012, which was played to the jury, two men can be heard speaking. One of the men, who is referred to as “Niall” by the other, tells the other that the “first flag that's raised we're fucked” and if they freeze the account “we get nothing”.
“Niall” can be heard remarking how many times that has happened in the past and that it only happens “if we get greedy”. He can be heard saying that there would be nothing worse than “having been so close and yet so far”.
Mr Staines told the jury that it was the prosecution's case that “Niall” is in fact Gold. He told the jury that Gold had “conned real people out of real money in real life”.
In his closing speech Dominic McGinn SC, defending, said that it appears that Gold was being used as much as Mr Lauridsen as he was the one who ended up “carrying the can” because the account which the funds were transferred to was linked to him.
Mr McGinn said if his client was the “criminal mastermind” that the prosecution alleges then surely he would have used a bank account that was not connected to him.
Judge Nolan had earlier in the trial directed the jury to enter a verdict of not guilty on the final count on the indictment which charged Gold with unlawful use of a computer.