Sunday 24 September 2017

Fraudster who posed as Gerald Kean to swindle €1.6m had car blown up

A FORMER estate agent who stole €1.6m after using celebrity solicitor Gerald Kean's name to encourage dozens of investors to participate in a 'Ponzi' scheme had his car blown up and was warned by gardai that his life was in danger, the Herald can reveal.

Yesterday Eamonn Kelly (48) Decies Road, Ballyfermot, was jailed for six years after he pleaded guilty to a number of fraud-related charges between October 2007 and February 2010.

Kelly who had owned two RE/MAX Auctioneers franchises in Dublin was being pursued by the debt collection company owned by notorious veteran criminal Martin 'The Viper' Foley as well as dangerous dissident Republicans when his car was blown up in Ballyfermot in November 2010.



Mobsters

Nobody has ever been charged in relation to the massive explosion which destroyed Kelly's green Ford Mondeo car at O'Hogan Road, Ballyfermot, almost 14 months ago.

However gardai do not believe that mobsters connected to 'The Viper' had anything to do with the car bomb.

At the time, Kelly was homeless and broke after his elaborate 'Ponzi' scheme went belly-up.

"He was in very serious bother at the time -- there was information that there was an active threat against his life. He knew he was under very serious pressure," explained a source.

"He had nowhere to turn to and was relying on his relatives just to have a roof over his head," explained a source.

Dublin Circuit Court heard yesterday that Kelly told investors they could make €15,000 profit within six months on a €50,000 investment if they purchased sites in the UK.

Detective Garda Seamus Padden told the court that Kelly forged Mr Kean's signature on a letter that was then sent to potential investors to encourage them to invest in a bogus property operation in Manchester.

The letter stated that the solicitor was representing Kelly and that the estate agent acted as an adviser to Gerard Kean.

In fact, Mr Kean knew nothing about the letter.

Kelly also provided potential investors with a bogus letter from Ulster Bank in Crumlin, stating that he had €4.6m on deposit there.

Det Gda Padden said the scheme involved 25 different groups from Dublin, Wexford and Donegal, whose investments ranged from €10,000 to €100,000.

Kelly used funds from later investors to repay profits to the early investors in order to encourage them to reinvest.

Det Gda Padden said the bulk of the funds, just over €1m, came from the Donegal investors.

He said Kelly had paid back €410,000 to a small number of investors before he was caught and €480,000, held in three different bank accounts, was frozen by order of the High Court following his arrest.

The scheme finally came to light after the bogus letter from Ulster Bank came to the attention of the bank, which contacted the gardai.

Kelly made full admissions to the gardai and told them that he had started the scheme after running into financial difficulty following the property crash.

Judge Martin Nolan described the offence as a "classic Ponzi scheme" and imposed consecutive sentences totalling six years.

hnews@herald.ie

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