Ireland was the “nerve centre” of a German property firm being investigated for losing billions of euro of investors’ money, the Dáil has heard.
Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said it was “heartbreaking” that many ordinary people had lost “all their life savings and pensions” after investing in a company called Dolphin Trust, renamed the Germany Property Group, which was based in Cork.
It is understood about 1,800 Irish people invested sums of €20,000 to €40,000 in a ponzi scheme. The company is under investigation in Germany.
Mr Doherty told the Dáil: “Dolphin told its investors it would use its money to buy derelict buildings across Germany, it would turn them into luxury flats and sell them to German buyers.
“It promised high interest returns and their original capital back. Dolphin Trust has now collapsed and owes investors in the region of €3 billion.”
He said up 20,000 people around the world will lose money.
“The nerve centre of this operation was here in Ireland,” the Donegal TD said. “It was through Dolphin International Group based in Cork.
“It’s unlikely that these people will ever see the full value of their money… their entire life savings, and that is absolutely heartbreaking for them.”
Asked what action was taken when issues about the company were flagged in 2016, the Tánaiste said he was “not aware” of the Cabinet being informed at the time.
“Perhaps the Department of Finance or the Minister of Finance or somebody in the system of government became aware of it, but without knowing who or when or what that was, it is difficult for me to answer the question,” Leo Varadkar told the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions.
He expressed his sympathy to those affected in Ireland, and across Europe.
He said he would inform Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe about the matter.