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Liquidators seek interview with Ferrari crash Swede

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Liquidators seek interview with Ferrari crash Swede
22:15 CEST+02:00
Just three months after his release from a California prison, former Gizmondo director Stefan Eriksson is gearing up for a couple of difficult battles on both sides of the Atlantic.

Eriksson, who achieved worldwide fame for wrapping a $1 million sports car around a pole outside of Los Angeles in early 2006, is preparing to “go after the banks” in the United States, which he claims were wrong in accusing him of stealing luxury cars.

At the same time, Eriksson is dealing with UK investigators looking into the spectacular bankruptcy of the tech firm he helped launch along with Swedish entrepreneur Carl Freer back in 2002.

“I have nothing to hide,” Eriksson told The Local.

Registered in the United States as Tiger Telematics, Gizmondo was considered by many at the time to be a dark horse entrant into the fiercely competitive market for handheld gaming devices.

Tiger Telematics and its European subsidiary, Gizmondo Europe Ltd, finally launched their handheld, multi-functional gaming system, called Gizmondo, in March of 2005.

But sales of the pricey gadget never took off and Gizmondo entered court ordered liquidation in the UK in February 2006.

An investigation by Begbies Traynor into Gizmondo's demise has dragged on for more than two years, and according to the investigator looking into possible fraud at Gizmondo, most of the top people from the failed tech firm have been interviewed about the case.

“We've interviewed all the main characters,” said Colin Wilson of Begbies Traynor.

“But we have yet to speak with Stefan Eriksson.”

Eriksson acknowledged receiving a notice from the liquidators about a month ago. He said he is not sure of exactly what they want to discuss, but that he has every intention of making an appearance “hopefully in a few weeks.”

According to a private investigator representing Eriksson's interests in Britain, the Swede is currently in Northern Cyprus, a Mediterranean oasis which lacks an extradition treaty with the UK.

“That could be true,” said Eriksson, who also reportedly owns a home in Germany.

Wilson said Eriksson has been “hard to reach” until recently, as he was serving a prison sentence in California after pleading no contest in November 2006 to charges of embezzlement.

Days earlier, a jury had failed to agree on whether to convict Eriksson on charges of having stolen several rare luxury cars, including a rare Ferrari Enzo, which Eriksson crashed into a pole near Malibu in February 2006, allegedly traveling 160 miles per hour.

He escaped unhurt but international media reported widely on the mysterious circumstances surrounding the crash.

Eriksson was released from prison in January of this year. Since then Begbies Traynor investigators have been trying to arrange an opportunity to speak with the man who, prior to his time with Gizmondo, spent several years in jail for a string of serious crimes perpetrated during his time with the so-called Uppsala Mafia.

While Eriksson views the Begbies Traynor summons as standard procedure for the bankruptcy investigation, he was surprised that liquidators hadn't contacted him in prison.

“If they had wanted to talk to me, they knew where to find me,” he said.

Eriksson says any delay in his response to the interview request is by no means an attempt to avoid appearing before investigators in the UK, but simply a function of the time it has taken to put his affairs in order since being released from prison.

“I've been very, very busy,” he said.

In addition to planning for his interview about the Gizmondo bankruptcy, Eriksson is also working with lawyers to re-open his case in the United States.

He contends that the banks were wrong in claiming that the luxury cars in his possession at the time of the Ferrari crash were stolen, and he claims to have the paperwork to back it up.

“I want to prove my case,” he said.

“[The banks] can't be allowed to do what they have done…it's just ridiculous.”

Eriksson also stressed the cars were in his name only and had nothing to do with Gizmondo.

Back in the UK, Wilson remained tight lipped about the status of the investigation, and whether or not there is any concrete evidence of financial fraud in Gizmondo's dizzying collapse.

“We're still in a ‘finding out' exercise and more information may yet come to light,” he said.

“It's a complex case.”

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