Yacht captain lost nearly £350,000 in investment scheme

An investor who lost almost £350,000 in a fraud involving a Brighouse man gave evidence to a jury today (Tuesday) after flying in from Africa.

Richard Bale, who works as a yacht captain in Gambia, invested more than £540,000 with convicted fraudster John Hirst because he seemed “the most honest and reliable person”.

Mr Bale told a jury at Bradford Crown Court that he had recommended Hirst’s scheme, which promised returns of 18 per cent a year plus a two per cent bonus, to three or four of his very best friends.

But accounts revealed that Mr Bale had only got back about £191,000 from his investments and was now £348,742 short.

Mr Bale told the court that Hirst gave the impression of being a very successful and wealthy businessman.

“Had you known that a number of businesses in which he was concerned had failed and that when he first came to Mallorca he had little money would that have affected your judgement of Mr Hirst?” asked prosecutor Simon Bourne-Arton QC.

“Of course it would have,” replied Mr Bale.

Hirst, 61, of Millroyd Mill, Huddersfield Road, Brighouse, has accepted his involvement in the so-called “Ponzi” scheme which swindled ex-pats in Mallorca out of millions of pounds and the jury has already been told that in the 1990s he was jailed for obtaining money by deception from ex-miners.

Financial advisor Richard Pollett, 70, from Dorset, is on trial accused of involvement in defrauding the investors.

Mr Bale said he trusted both Pollett and Hirst.

Hirst’s 62-year-old wife Linda, from Surrey, his step-daughter Zoe Waite, 36, also from Surrey, and his 35-year-old solicitor son Daniel Hirst, of Marsh Lane, Leeds, have all denied money-laundering allegations.

The trial continues.