A man who allegedly represented himself as a highly qualified financial consultant has gone on trial charged with theft and fraud offences involving sums totaling almost €2m.

Simon Gold, 54, with an address at Aughavas, Co Leitrim, has denied the charges.

The jury was told the case involves five alleged victims, four of whom are Irish and a fifth who was a very wealthy Danish businessman.

Prosecuting counsel Lorcan Staines told the jury the four Irish men were "deceived into transferring money to a man they had never met in the belief it would secure them loans for much larger amounts".

The four were businessmen involved in construction and farming and were finding it hard to secure loans from the banks during the "deep recession in 2010 and 2011".

The men were asked to transfer sums ranging from £10,000 to £30,000 sterling but the jury heard that once the money was transferred, the man they had dealt with became difficult to contact and the loans never materialised.

The prosecution alleges the accused man operated under a number of names including Simon Gold, Simon Magnier, Simon Gould and Niall O’Donoghue which was his original name.

Two of the alleged victims had been dealing with a man called Simon Magnier described as having "a fairly polished English accent" and two others had gone through a third party who had asked them to transfer the money to a company Simon Gold had admitted controlling, the prosecution said.

Documents sent by some of the men as part of what they believed was a loan application were later found on a computer during a search of a house in Westmeath, Mr Staines said.

These included valuation of assets and statements of assets and liabilities, a copy of a passport and other documents.

The fifth alleged victim was a very wealthy Danish businessman who entered an agreement with a German lawyer to lodge €1.6m into an account on the promise of a monthly return on his investment.

The money was paid into an account opened by the accused in two tranches of €800,000 and within days €678,000 had been transferred to various accounts before the bank became suspicious and froze the account, Mr Staines said.

The jury was told it would hear a recording of a telephone conversation between two men, one of whom was allegedly the accused, during which they discuss the €1.6m transaction.

Mr Staines said Mr Gold had admitted to Gardaí that he operated a company called Anglo Irish Global and Anglo Irish London which had nothing to do with the now defunct bank which had grabbed headlines in the past.

He said Mr Gold had opened a bank account using a false ESB bill.

A search of a house in Co Leitrim in 2014 had uncovered a number of documents including business cards in three different names using titles of "head of private banking and wealth management" and "head of investments".

In a separate search Gardaí also found documents purporting to be from "Irish National Bank" which Mr Staines said was not a bank and these were allegedly false documents.

A letting agent told the court that he met a man whose name was Niall O'Donoghue who said he worked for Elite Bank and wanted to rent a property at Esker View in Delvin in 2012.

Martin Daly said the man was tall, dark and quite overweight and spoke with an upper/middle class English accent.

On the night they met to view the property he said Mr O’Donoghue was well dressed and was driving a Bentley.

The rent was to be paid by direct debit but this never happened. Instead it was paid in bank lodgments or collected in person in cash from another man, the court heard.

The jury was shown a document which appeared to be a reference for Niall O’Donoghue as a suitable tenant. The letter was signed by a Simon P. Magnier.

Gardaí told the court that Simon Gold was arrested during a search of a house in Aughavas, Co Leitrim in February 2014.

Mr Gold faces a total of 22 charges including theft, deception, money laundering and the use and possession of false instruments.

He denies the charges. The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan.