Watchdog to probe suspected law breaches at Carroll firm
Published 06/02/2010 | 05:00
The corporate watchdog will investigate suspected breaches of company law at one of the firms in troubled builder Liam Carroll's crumbling empire.
The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) has been sent a copy of an auditor's report on Dunloe Ewart, which states the company failed to file a full set of financial statements outlining the group's performance in 2008.
The development could prove a further headache for Mr Carroll, who has already lost control of a number of companies in his construction empire after a series of court battles.
Under European regulations, unless companies prepare full and fair accounts that represent a fair view of a firm, directors can be liable for conviction and imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or be given a maximum fine of €635.
However, it would have to be proved that the offence was "committed wilfully".
According to Companies Office filings, the directors of Dunloe Ewart are Mr Carroll, John Pope and Noel Murray.
Last year, Mr Carroll lost control of his Zoe group of companies following lengthy and high-profile court proceedings. Dunloe Ewart, which owns developments in Cherrywood and Sir John Rogerson's Quay, was not part of that legal action and remains under the control of Mr Carroll.
No financial or subsidiary details are available for Dunloe Ewart as the company is unlimited.
However, the firm continues to operate out of its 400-acre site in Cherrywood and Sir John Rogerson's Quay in the capital.
The report, prepared by accountancy firm KPMG, was filed at the Companies Office at the end of last year.
In it, the auditor states that Dunloe failed to comply with financial accountancy requirements by not presenting "consolidated financial statements giving a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the group".
A spokesperson for the ODCE confirmed that the watchdog would investigate the report.
"The ODCE considers all reports of suspected breaches of company law," a spokesperson told the Irish Independent.
Legal sources said yesterday that, under Irish and European law, companies were required to adhere to strict rules covering the preparation of full financial statements.
These laws act in tandem with European financial-reporting standards.
Companies of a certain size are required to prepare consolidated accounts, which bring together all assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses of a company and its subsidiaries or joint ventures.
The KPMG report continues: "Consolidated financial statements have not been prepared. The group does not meet the criteria to avail of consolidation exemptions in FRS 2 'accounting for subsidiary undertakings'."
Mr Carroll took control of Dunloe Ewart from developer and solicitor Noel Smyth in 2003 in a long drawn-out battle. At the time, the firm was listed on the Irish Stock Exchange but Mr Carroll delisted it and later took it unlimited.