Witness statements challenged in Goldtrail case

Witness statements challenged in Goldtrail caseBy Ian Taylor

Witness statements in a multimillion pound claim by Goldtrail Travel liquidator PwC against the directors of Viking Airlines and Onur Air were challenged in the High Court yesterday.PwC is claiming in excess of £5 million in payments to Goldtrail it argues were “misused” or “misapplied” by those running Viking Airlines and Turkish carrier Onur Air in 2010.

The liquidator is seeking £1.4 million from former Viking Airlines directors Phil Wyatt, Halldor Sigurdarson, Magnus Stephensen and Black Pearl Investments, and £3.64 million from Onur Air.

The claims follow a three-year investigation into Goldtrail and its director Abdulkadir Aydin who transferred more than £10 million to himself and his family ahead of putting the company into administration in July 2010. Aydin is no longer in the UK.

Considerable time was taken up yesterday by discussion of whether documents submitted to the Court refer to the Hong Kong-registered Black Pearl Investments or to its wholly-owned subsidiary BPI UK.

Solicitor Malcolm Grumbridge, who confirmed he has acted for Wyatt over many years, told the Court he set up Black Pearl Investments in Hong Kong.

Shown a statement by Wyatt saying Black Pearl was “entirely funded by him [Wyatt]”, Grumbridge said: “He is referring to BPI UK. Black Pearl Investments has not done any business of any sort. No money went through Black Pearl Investments Hong Kong.”

Shown a document submitted to the CAA in 2009 in support of an Atol application and listing Wyatt as owner of 51% of Black Pearl Investments, Grumbridge said: “No shares have ever been issued.”

Grumbridge was also questioned about his role in introducing Aydin to accountant and convicted fraudster Timothy Entwisle to help set up an off-shore company.

Entwisle was one of four people convicted of a £6 million holiday fraud in 2008.

Counsel for PwC pointed out: “Mr Entwisle had been convicted of a fraud involving a travel company, a booking scam in which 20,000 people were cheated out of their holidays. You considered him suitable?”

Grumbridge said: “I did. I believe in rehabilitation. I had known Mr Entwisle for 30-odd years.”

The case continues.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

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