- Nigel Goldman, 56, made fortune playing poker and twice jailed for fraud
- Left three cats in Marbella mansion when he left three weeks ago
- Lawyers across peninsula claim he has fled with more than €3million
- Former classmate of Topshop giant Philip Green said to be in Morocco
A British poker champion is being hunted by Spanish police after disappearing from his Costa del Sol mansion with more than £2.5million of investors’ money.
Nigel Goldman, 56, who counts James Hewitt and Sir Mark Thatcher among his close friends, was been twice-imprisoned for fraud before relocating to southern Spain.
Now lawyers across the peninsula have launched appeals to reclaim at least €3million (£2.5million) – a figure rising every day.
The only trace of Goldman since he vanished in Marbella – reportedly leaving three cats – has been a text message to a former employer three weeks ago which read: ‘I did not set out to be a thief.’
Friends claim he is now in Morocco.
Spanish police started receiving complaints about his Tangiers-based company, International Financial Investment, three weeks ago.
Goldman, a former classmate of retail giant Philip Green, has admitted in writing to owing £658,000 (€800,000), however claims made to the Guardia Civil and UK fraud crime watchdog Action Fraud calculate the debt as more than triple.
Goldman, who drives a red Ferrari and collects champagne, made his fortune at some of the world’s biggest poker tournaments.
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He laid bare his history of dishonesty in a book of memoirs – High Stakes: How I Blew £14 million – published in 2012.
A review of his book reads: ‘Goldman seems to show little remorse – and more than a little contempt – for the victims whose money he lived off so handsomely.’
Despite his past, Goldman believes he has been duped by other brokers were running a Ponzi scheme – where old investors embezzle money put in by new investors.
Inquiries: Lawyers in three Spanish cities – Jaen, Almeira and Malaga – are chasing the ex-convict for £3million
Disappeared: He is said to have fled his Marbella mansion on January 3, leaving his three cats behind
The broker, who counts Mark Thatcher and James Hewitt as friends, lives in luxury and collects Champagne
According to the Birmingham Mail, he texted a friend to say: ‘Things started to go wrong just over a year ago.
‘It seems some of my brokers turned out to be running a Ponzi scheme with everyone’s money. Since then I have been playing catch-up.’
Giles Brown, a journalist for ex-pat newspaper The Olive Press in Spain said: ‘Nigel is a rogue.
‘Shake your hand and you count your fingers afterwards – but he always kept good company, he knew his wine and cigars and was impeccably dressed.
‘Now he’s vanished, leaving behind the furniture and three cats.’
Goldman was jailed twice for fraud and laid bare his dishonesty in a 2012 book, High Stakes: How I Blew £14m
Denial: He has admitted to owing ¿800,000 but believes he has been duped by investors in a Ponzi scheme
Lawyer Antonio Flores, said: ‘So far we have spoken to victims in Almeria, Malaga and Jaen.
‘In our most recent estimate it looks like reaching €3million.
‘It is large scale, Police have not yet issued an arrest warrant, but they are not far from doing that.’
Goldman offered investments in a host of commodities, including bullion, stocks and shares, despite not qualifying as a regulated financial advisor due to his criminal convictions.
Although police are currently scouring Spain for Goldman, a fellow poker player, who did not want to be named, claims he spoke to Goldman on January 3 who told him he was in Morocco.
Goldman is believed to be in MOrocco although police are currently hunting the peninsula
Goldman offered investments in a host of commodities although he does not qualify as a regulated financial advisor due to his criminal convictions
He said: ‘He’s in Morocco. Well, he was on January 3.
‘I spoke to him. Unbeknown to me, he was on his toes.
‘I have known him for years. We have sat opposite each other at many a poker table.
‘He didn’t have much to say, which is unlike him.’
A spokesman for Auction Fraud confirmed complaints had been logged by the organisation about Goldman.
If those complaints are upheld, information gathered will be passed to either the Metropolitan Police of Fraud Investigation Bureau.