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Friday 19 September 2014

Unforseen losses for Irish Psychics Live

Gordon Deegan

Published 12/03/2014 | 02:30

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Founder Tom Higgins sold Realm Communications in 2009, sharing a €9m dividend with his wife Theresa Dunne.
Founder Tom Higgins sold Realm Communications in 2009, sharing a €9m dividend with his wife Theresa Dunne. Garry O'Neill

A liquidator has been appointed to the firm behind Irish Psychics Live which was founded by space buff Tom Higgins but later sold.

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The liquidation of the firm came eight months after the company, which was behind what was Ireland's most high profile and controversial premium phone line service, ceased trading.

Eamon Leahy of Leahy & Co in Fairview, Dublin, has been appointed as liquidator arising from a resolution of the members of Realm Communications.

The appointment of Mr Leahy also follows the Revenue Commissioners publishing a notice in January confirming that it had petitioned for the High Court to wind up Realm Communications.

The notice confirmed that in January, creditor Michael Gladney of Sarsfield House, Francis Street, Limerick, presented a petition for the wind-up of the firm.

The premium phone line business was established by former journalist Tom Higgins in 1998 and built up a large cash pile over the years before Mr Higgins and his wife, Theresa Dunne, cashed out in 2009, sharing a dividend payout of €9m.

Mr Higgins has previously declared his intention to be the first Irish person in space on board Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic after paying $200,000 (€144,000) for the privilege.

RATES

Callers to the premium phone line were charged €2.40 per minute for instant psychic readings and the rates were the subject of calls to 'Liveline' and an on-air spat on RTE between Pat Kenny and Mr Higgins.

Mr Higgins sold Realm Communications to Gavin Hickey and Maxine Payne in 2009 and the most recent figures show that, after his departure as director, the firm quickly became loss-making, recording a pre-tax loss of €315,225 in 2010 after recording a post-tax profit of €1.1m in 2009.

This arose from the firm's income plummeting with the abridged accounts for the 12 months to the end of April 30, 2010, showing its gross profit, declined by 72pc from €4.27m to €1.19m.

The figures show that at the end of the period, €805,714 was owed to Revenue through €479,332 in corporation tax, €191,407 in VAT and €134,975 in PAYE/PRSI. The firm had net liabilities totalling €809,956.

A note attached to the accounts states that "the net assets of the company are negative and the company has reported a loss in the year compared to profits in previous years back to 2003".

The note adds: "In the subsequent period, the management accounts indicate a return to profitability, although the turnover has reduced substantially and the balance sheet remains insolvent. It is expected that the company will continue to be profitable and return to solvency in the 2011-2012 year."

It is not known how the firm has fared since financially as the directors have not filed any accounts in more than two years.

Mr Leahy did not return a call for comment yesterday.

Irish Independent

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