A MAN previously convicted of fraud who owes investment clients a small fortune is living quietly in Kintbury after his champagne lifestyle in Marbella turned sour.
It is claimed he owes millions to creditors in Spain after his high-rolling investment scheme crashed and is now being investigated by Spanish and British police.
But Howard del Monte – formerly known as Nigel Goldman – has claimed in an exclusive interview with the Newbury Weekly News that he never intended for anyone to lose out, and branded some of the more lurid international press reports about him “lies”.
Speaking from his rented cottage in Kintbury, he said he had been hounded by the international press, national reporters and private detectives in recent months and weeks and still fears extradition to Spain.
By his side was loyal partner Suzanne Couling, a former Inkpen resident who met Mr Del Monte during an 11-year sojourn in Spain.
He was a well-known and colourful figure in the Marbella area for many years – where he had rebuilt his life following two prison terms for fraud whilst living in the UK – and persuaded many expats to invest in his investment companies.
Mr del Monte, originally from Birmingham, said this week: “It’s totally untrue that I owe £13 million, or more. The writ in Spain is for 650,000 euros and I very much regret that anyone had to lose money.”
The self-styled poker wizard, who also dealt in gold and coins, said his latest adventures began in 2008 when he won a trading competition on Talk Radio Europe’s previous guise REM, in which he turned 100,000 euros into 2.7 million.
After that, he said, would-be investors beat a path to his door pleading: “Make me rich, too.” Mr del Monte said: “I was approached by many expats, but because of my convictions under the Companies Act of 1948 for offences in the 1980s, the only way client funds could be handled was by trading through an off-shore entity.
“Everyone got good dividends between 2008 and 2012. ”
Speaking from his Kintbury home, Mr del Monte insisted he warned clients that their investments represented a gamble and that there were no guarantees.
The big crash and back to the UK.
When the crash came, it came in spectacular fashion he claimed. He said: “It all went wrong over a 24-hour period – very badly wrong. My portfolio was completely wiped out. I had only taken my eye off the ball for an hour but sometimes that’s all it takes.”
In August last year, said Mr del Monte, the Spanish tax authorities hit him with a bill at the same time as they froze all his accounts, including those of his clients. Despite vowing “never to return” to the UK in his autobiography, High Stakes, in which he also talks of amassing a £14million fortune, Mr del Monte was left with little choice but to come back to his home country.
He said: “I was totally unable to operate. I decided to come back to the UK. I was out of money, selling personal assets to pay clients.”
He claimed he was sympathetic to those clients who had lost out but insisted: “I was always careful to ensure people weren’t investing life savings and that they could afford to trade. But the Spanish press have started a campaign against me.”
Asked if, with hindsight, he would have handled the fallout differently, Mr del Monte said: “The mistake I made was coming back without explaining fully what had happened and why I was leaving. I could have handled that much better.”
He left Spain at the end of last year and was located this month by expat newspaper The Olive Press through his and Ms Couling’s joint ebay account. According to the paper, multiple complaints have been lodged about Nigel Goldman to Action Fraud UK – the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.
Marbella-based lawyer Antonio Flores, currently representing a British expat couple who claim that Mr Goldman owes them around 640,000 euros, said he first became aware of Mr Goldman last October. Mr Flores added that although he is only representing one client, he said he is aware of “10 or 12” official complaints that have been made against Mr Goldman to the Marbella National Police since December 2013. He also said he believes Mr Goldman to owe “£2m – £2.5m” in total.
Mr Flores said he believed official paperwork was being compiled by the Spanish police. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police told the Newbury Weekly News that they were not aware of any complaints against Mr Goldman and said it would be the responsibility of the Spanish authorities to issue a European Arrest Warrant should they feel it necessary.
Reaction in Kintbury
The story of Mr del Monte residing in Kintbury has been picked up by several national newspapers and has got tongues wagging in the village.
One resident, who did not want to be named, told the Newbury Weekly News he was aware of a new face in the village who was calling himself ‘Howie’. “You can find Howie in the Blue Ball every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday nights playing poker,” he said, but added that he knew nothing of Mr del Monte’s past.
For the full exclusive interview with Mr del Monte, see today’s Newbury Weekly News.