By Jason Moore
THE leading British accountant who was arrested by Palma National police officers on Thursday in connection with the Gilher investment fund, which is the subject of an on-going investigation by the British Serious Fraud Office (SFO), was remanded in custody by a Palma judge on Friday night with bail set at 85'000 euros.

According to the SFO, Gilher Inc is (was) a Panama and Seychelles registered company that invested funds on behalf of private clients who were mainly based in Majorca and in Britain. The business was controlled by John Neil Hirst, resident in Majorca.

Complaints from investors alleging loss of money resulted in the commencement of an investigation in November 2009 into a suspected £20 million fraud.
Hirst, who is now in Britain has been arrested and interviewed by the Serious Fraud Office in connection with the case.
The Santa Ponsa accountant, who spent the night in Palma prison as his family and friends tried to raise the bail money, was quoted as telling the judge that he himself was a Gilher victim as his family had also invested money in the fund.

One Spanish newspaper quoted the leading accountant as telling the judge that his wife and daughter had all put money into Gilher and that he was one of the biggest victims of the alleged fraud which is being investigated by both Spanish and British police officers.

A group of British investors, who said that they invested money in the Gilher fund, gathered outside the Palma court on Friday when the accountant was being questioned by the judge. They told the Bulletin that they had lost their savings and wanted justice.

The Serious Fraud Office have been investigating the case, alongside their Spanish colleagues, for more than a year.
In December last year, John Hirst, was arrested at Bradford Police Station in relation to offences of fraud and money laundering. He was interviewed under police caution by SFO investigators and officers from the West Yorkshire Police Economic Crime Unit. He was released the same day on Police bail.Hirst and the British accountant are well known figures within the British community on the island especially in the Calvia area. The British accountant, who the Bulletin can´t name for legal reasons, has lived on the island for many years and is a member of various expatriate groups and clubs.

Hirst, 58, left the island in the summer of 2009. Investors have told the Bulletin, that initially Gilher paid them a good dividend but in the summer of 2009 the interest payments allegedly failed to materialise and this is when they started to become concerned. One investor told the Bulletin yesterday that one of the reasons why he had an invested in the fund was because of the attractive interest rate of 20 percent. There are believed to be scores of investors across the Calvia area, who have all allegedly lost sizeable sums ranging from 20'000 euros to three million euros.


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