Business Irish

Sunday 11 December 2016

Carroll used portion of his pension fund to prop up empire

Emmet Oliver Deputy Business Editor

Published 28/01/2010 | 05:00

Property developer Liam Carroll. Photo: Courtpix
Property developer Liam Carroll. Photo: Courtpix

EMBATTLED developer Liam Carroll used his own personal pension fund to bolster some of the companies in his crumbling property empire as the market slumped in late 2008, new company filings show.

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New accounts for Carroll's main investment company disclose that a company called Rambridge was provided with €58m by "companies controlled by Liam Carroll" and "a pension fund which is for the benefit of Liam Carroll''.

The breakdown of these loans was not disclosed and the value of Carroll's pension fund is not known.

A spokesman for the company was not available to explain the transaction or the financial position of Mr Carroll's pension fund last night.

Private pension funds are traditionally ring fenced from the banks, although they only qualify for tax relief if they contain less than €5.4m.

The investment company, Bloomburg, which holds many of Carroll's stock exchange assets, has filed accounts showing a loss for the financial of €63m. The assets of the company, most of them listed on the Irish stock exchange, plunged from €90m to €25.7m. The company's auditors also issued an 'adverse opinion' on the financial statements of the company.

It said the company's ability to remain a 'going concern' depended on support of its banks. The firm had debtors of just €5.3m, but creditors of €110.3m.

Carroll had a range of shares in Irish listed companies, including Irish Continental Group, Greencore and Aer Lingus. He sold out of several of these positions when the property market declined, while some of the other investments eventually ended up owned by the banks.

For example, Carroll's 29.9pc stake in Greencore was placed with 40 institutional investors before Christmas at €1.35 a share. The stock was placed in the market on behalf of Ulster Bank which had funded Mr Carroll's share-buying in Greencore in 2006 and 2007. The bank recently took charge of the holding following the collapse of Mr Carroll's Zoe property group of companies.

It is understood Mr Carroll spent more than €240m buying Greencore stock at the height of the property boom.

Carroll has one of the largest selection of companies in Ireland, although Bloomburg is controlled by a company called Cradder. The ultimate parent company is Zelderbridge. The accounts for Bloomburg show that it owed €110m to a company called Dowmin Investment Company.

Irish Independent

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