Fall-out from collapsed Stolzenberg empire mushrooms worldwide

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The Independent Online
THE fall-out from the collapse of part of the global empire run by Wolfgang Stolzenberg, the secretive London-based financier, is growing.

Allied Irish Bank has obtained an order in the Dublin High Court to wind up Mr Stolzenberg's main Irish company.

Two months ago, Mr Stolzenberg's Canadian-based Castor Holdings collapsed with debts of Cdollars 1.8bn (pounds 818m). Dozens of banks, institutions and wealthy individuals across Europe and North America, including the giant Chrysler Canada pension fund, had loaned money to Castor, which then invested it in a maze of businesses around the world.

In London, Mr Stolzenberg, who shuns publicity, is chairman of Imry, one of the country's biggest property groups.

So far, Imry, which owes pounds 440m to Barclays Bank, has been unaffected by his financial difficulties elsewhere.

In Dublin, CH Ireland Inc, Castor's Irish subsidiary, has been put into liquidation by Allied Irish and other banks after their loans turned sour. Their money was loaned to US construction companies and Fettergrove, a British company, which owned Century Asset Management, another British Stolzenberg vehicle.

Both Fettergrove and Century Asset Management have now gone into receivership.

Apart from pounds 3,000 in the bank, Fettergrove's only assets were declared to be loan stock in Century, originally valued at pounds 3.5m but now said by its liquidators to be of 'questionable' value.

Other companies are being forced into bankruptcy by angry creditors, who are embarking on a global paper chase of Castor assets. CH International Overseas and CH International (Cyprus), which are both based in Nicosia and are thought to own second mortgages on properties throughout the world, are being wound up.

At a recent stormy creditors' meeting in Montreal, Mr Stolzenberg fled through a back door to avoid waiting reporters and photographers.

Castor has blamed its collapse on defaulting property developers, including York-Hannover, once controlled by Mr Stolzenberg's fellow German-Canadian property financier and close associate, Karsten Von Wersebe. In Switzerland, York-Hannover is at the centre of the developing controversy surrounding Rothschild Bank of Zurich, the local affiliate of London's NM Rothschild.

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