Sunday 28 May 2017

Flannery sold a London property for four times its purchase price

Former Fine Gael strategist Frank Flannery borrowed £625,000
to buy a house in London back in 1996. It sold in 2010 for £2.5m
Former Fine Gael strategist Frank Flannery borrowed £625,000 to buy a house in London back in 1996. It sold in 2010 for £2.5m
John Downing

John Downing

Ex-Fine Gael strategist Frank Flannery's former London property sold for £2.8m, more than four times what he paid for it in the mid-1990s.

The property is at the centre of claims that a loan on the house could have been linked with offshore company guarantees.

Mr Flannery has insisted he has "no knowledge whatever" on the matter. He said he could not understand how his name could be linked with a partial loan guarantee tied with Stg£250,000 in a company "domiciled in Jersey".

The reports are part of a forest of 11.5 million documents dubbed the "Panama Papers".

Mr Flannery told the Irish Independent that in his role as boss of Rehab he had worked extensively in London for the 20 years 1990-2010.

"In or about 1996 I got an opportunity to buy a property there. I had a life-long association with Bank of Ireland and their branch in Berkeley Square, London, advanced me a full loan," he said.

The former Rehab boss said the £615,000 loan fully covered purchase, legal and other expenses. He said the house was "part investment and part somewhere to live" and it all worked well. The house was eventually sold in 2012 for £2.8m according to the UK property register.

Mr Flannery said through personal contacts a short time after the purchase, he switched his business to Allied Irish Banks, who gave him a loan to fully pay off the Bank of Ireland loan. He emphatically stated that he had "utterly no knowledge" of any links to offshore companies. Asked if he believed there were any implications for the Revenue Commissioners in Ireland, Mr Flannery said there were not. "There are no tax implications at all here," he said.

Mr Flannery said he was now seeking the full suite of documents in relation to the transaction and would then potentially re-assess matters.

"I cannot tell you any more about it. At the time I was very happy to get a very good property at a good price, and equally happy to get a full loan to buy it, and eventually pay it all off. I know absolutely nothing about off-shore companies or any other links," he said.

The Panama Papers showed two separate letters relating to the Bank of Ireland Private Banking loan in April 1996. The first detailed loan terms, the second referred to a partial guarantee based on a company "domiciled in Jersey", and Mr Flannery has insisted that he never saw that second letter.

Mr Flannery quit his role as a Fine Gael adviser in 2014 after controversies about his role with Rehab. He had formally retired as the organisation's boss but remained on as a lobbyist and consultant receiving money for these roles. He refused to appear before the Public Accounts Committee whom he accused of "acting politically".

Irish Independent

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