Wales Daily Post – 12th May, 1999
Text Courtesy of David Brown
NEW ACQUISITION: Hugh Eaves recently bought Nannau Hall, Dolgellau. Millionaire in City scandal quits Welsh railway board, by Emyr Williams Daily Post Correspondent.
A Millionaire businessman and financier, who is reported to have lost up to £20m belonging to leading City financiers on speculation on the Stock Market, has resigned as an unpaid non-executive director, deputy chairman and treasurer of the Ffestiniog Railway Company. Hugh Eaves, 56, a chartered accountant, lives in Canfield Gardens in the heart of London and, until his resignation from the FR board last Friday, had been a non-executive director for nearly 20 years.
“Mr Eaves has been a generous supporter of the company but has not been very actively involved for several years,” said FR chairman Mike Hart last night. Responding to the fact that Mr Eaves loaned £100,000 interest free to the FR some years ago, Mr Hart said: “We have been very grateful for the time, advice and money that Hugh Eaves contributed over many years to the company which has been of such enormous benefit to the Ffestiniog Railway Company and helped its development.” Mr Hart then went on to reveal that “given the company’s ownership by a charitable trust and Mr Eaves’ title as company finance director” the FR now felt duty bound to ask their independent external auditors to confirm all donations had been well spent and the company’s financial arrangements were good. Our accounts are monitored monthly by independent accountants, but given our public profile we believe we should give this further reassurance, “said Mr Hart.
It also emerged yesterday that Mr Eaves recently bought Nannau Hall on the outskirts of Dolgellau, which is currently being renovated. City reports reveal Mr Eaves has written an apologetic letter to his former City friends, explaining the “nest egg” they had entrusted to him had been lost on a series of wild financial gambles. Mr Eaves is the largest shareholder of Bury Football Club, where he is said to have invested at least £4m. He is also a shareholder and director of Swinton Rugby League Club. The scandal springs from Mr Eaves’s administration of a fund of about £20m held in bonds in a Swiss bank account on behalf of 15 former colleagues from the investment house Phillips & Drew. Mr Eaves was Phillips & Drew’s finance director until he left in 1988, but continued to administer the fund. News of Mr Eaves’s resignation from the Ffestiniog Railway board last night prompted a statement from Gwarchod, formed in Caernarfon last year to defend the future of agriculture in Snowdonia, particularly those farmers affected by FR’s plans to re-open the Welsh Highland Railway from Dinas, near Caernarfon to Porthmadog.
“As the treasurer of the Ffestiniog Railway it is likely that Hugh Eaves had a major part to play in drawing up the financial plans for the Welsh Highland,” said Gwarchod’s press officer, Eleri Carrog. “We note that he lent £100,000 in 1976′ to FR to make up part of a deficit, and'” possibly in other years. “We have always questioned how viable is the FR when it constantly needs: loans and grants, and how viable are. plans for further development.” Gwarchod was now calling on Gwynedd Council and other bodies to examine the financial side of Ffestiniog Railway/Welsh Highland proposals; “with a fine tooth comb.”