Business Irish

Thursday 28 August 2014

Cash missing as €20m car dealer to the stars probed

Cash spent on tennis lessons, private schools and wines as motors vanish

Tom Lyons

Published 20/10/2013 | 05:00

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Richard Mockler
Katy French was driving a Range Rover loaned by Lee Cullen on the night she died

A Bentley and Porsche car dealer to a fast moving set in west Dublin faces being struck off as a director and held liable for debts of millions on the application of the liquidator of his former company.

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Based in Clondalkin, Dublin 22, Richard Mockler Limited (RM Ltd), whose directors are Richard Mockler and his wife Janette, sold an array of cars to a high- spending group of business men and socialites.

Aidan Garcia Diaz, the liquidator of RM Ltd, which traded under the name New Road Motor Company from a showroom in Clondalkin, Dublin 22, is taking the action against Mr Mockler and his wife Janette, after discovering various alleged breaches of the Companies Act.

The liquidation of the car dealership has been a byzantine affair, which started in September 2009 when the company suddenly went bust.

Founded in 2000, RM Ltd's sales gradually rose to €2m as it developed a range of contacts among assorted individuals in west Dublin with an appetite for fast cars. However, it was only in 2007 that the business really took off, selling Bentleys, Range Rovers, Mercedes Sprinter Vans, Porsches and BMWs. In that year, RM Ltd's sales shot up over €20m as Mr Mockler sold cars worth hundreds of thousands on a daily basis. The appetite for cars was insatiable during that year which marked the peak of Ireland's economic bubble.

During this period a fellow car dealer, Lee Cullen, who ran a business called Exclusive Cars based in Saggart, Co Dublin, became one of RM Ltd's most significant trading partners.

Mr Cullen, an associate of the late model Katy French, loaned the tragic model a €100,000 Range Rover, which she was driving on the night she suffered a cocaine-induced heart attack.

RM Ltd and Exclusive Cars recommended clients to each other and regularly sold on high-performance cars to each other to meet their clients' demands.

Sometimes, within short periods of time, the same car would be sold by one company to the other for a client before being sold back again. It was that type of business: fast-moving and constantly deal-making with a network of clients in south-west Dublin.

RM Ltd also developed a good relationship with the son of a business family in west Dublin as well as a host of young, wealthy men who wanted the best cars to impress their friends.

However, the way in which RM Ltd traded, despite its booming success, was highly unusual beneath the bonnet, its liquidator discovered.

According to its liquidator, RM Ltd kept inadequate accounts and did not keep adequate receipt books, sales books or cash-flow statements of management accounts.

The company kept no minutes of resolutions passed or of any directors' meetings. Sets of sales records often contradicted each other making it hard to determine how exactly the company traded.

Sources of funds going into the company were not always clear because of its poor accounting practices. The timing of payments into the company was also unusual, with cars being sold for large sums which the company took months to get around to lodging.

An examination of RM Ltd's accounts by its liquidator also discovered that about €700,000 worth of high- performance cars have gone missing.

The liquidator also found that RM Ltd spent €650,000 on personal items for the benefit of Mr Mockler. These include payments described as to a tennis coach, private school fees, the TV licence, red wine and other items.

About €250,000 of company money was used to pay off personal loans of Mr Mockler to Irish Nationwide and Investec. This money was used to reduce Mr Mockler's mortgages on an investment property and his family home.

The liquidator, as part of his action to strike off Mockler and his wife, wants money taken for personal use to be repaid as well as other matters to be explained adequately.

Mr Mockler has been asked to explain these payments which were made at a time when his company owed large sums to preferential creditors.

The Sunday Independent was unable to contact Mr Mockler last week. Besides car dealing, Mr Mockler has other business interests including property investment. At one time, he also ran a laundry firm in south Dublin.

Mr Cullen was also uncontactable. The 'Sunday World' has reported that, in 2006, Mr Cullen made a €2.1m payment to the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Sunday Independent

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