Application to wind up forestry investment firm adjourned

It is alleged GWD Forestry Ltd has taken in some €30 million from investors

A High Court application to wind up an Irish registered forestry investment company has been adjourned after the firm agreed not to proceed with a creditors’ meeting planned for Thursday.

The application to appoint a liquidator to GWD Forestry Ltd, which is alleged to have taken in some €30 million from investors, will proceed later his month.

The court also heard that notice of that hearing will be provided to more than 400 investors who are creditors of the company and related entities.

Franco Bertellino, from Rivoli in Italy, had earlier this week sought to have Declan de Lacy, of PKF O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes, appointed as provisional liquidator to the company, with a registered address at Northumberland Road, Dublin.


Mr Bertellino, represented by Robert O’Reilly BL, sought the appointment over concerns about how the company has been run and its attempts to enter voluntary liquidation at a creditors’ meeting last December.

GWD’s attempts to go into voluntary liquidation were not done in accordance with Irish company law, he claimed, and a second creditors’ meeting was called by the company scheduled for Thursday.

Earlier this week, Mr Bertellino applied to have Mr de Lacy appointed as provisional liquidator of GWD, rather than have a liquidator appointed at the creditors’ meeting.

When the matter returned before Ms Justice Eileen Roberts on Thursday, counsel told the court that there had been some progress.

The company, counsel said, agreed not to proceed with the proposed creditors’ meeting. It also agreed that the application to appoint Mr de Lacy should be heard by the court later this month.

Counsel also secured permission from the court to put more than 400 members of a Facebook group who are investors in the company and allegedly related entities on notice of the application.

The matter will return to court on February 20th.

Previously, the court heard that in 2014 Mr Bertellino invested funds with entities he believes are related to GWD and he was not happy with the outcome of the initial investments.

He says he was offered and accepted a series of replacement contracts in 2017, which he claims resulted in GWD acquiring plantations of trees in Canada and Brazil on his behalf.

He became concerned after the company, which he says owes him over €100,000, decided to hold a creditors’ meeting in late December with the purpose of winding the company up.

That meeting was presided over by Benjamin Taylor, who claims to be the company’s sole director.

It is claimed Mr Taylor told the meeting the company was insolvent and should be wound up voluntarily.

Mr Bertellino was concerned Mr Taylor had unwittingly become the sole shareholder and director of the company on behalf of a person called Mark Raynor, otherwise known as Mark Lewis Daulby, the alleged main influence behind the company, who was convicted in 2003 of fraud involving the sale of investments to the public.

Mr Taylor originally resigned as director of the firm in 2015, after becoming uncomfortable with Mr Raynor’s behaviour, but he in 2021 agreed to return as a director to facilitate an investigation of the company.

He said he was told the company collapsed as far back as 2018, due to the actions taken by individuals placed in a position of trust by the firm at the time.

The firm’s Christmas tree crops were harvested annually, it is claimed, but none of the proceeds appear to have been received by GWD.

It is also claimed that Mr Taylor is not entitled to convene a creditors’ meeting as he does not have all the required information allowing him to do so.