Solictor who owes BoI €71m, claims his and wife's future lies in Britain
THE former multi-millionaire property investor and solicitor Brian O'Donnell has said he and his wife will never return to live in Dublin and claimed "Ireland holds nothing for us".
Mr O'Donnell, who is trying to be declared bankrupt in Britain, yesterday said his future is in the UK, to such an extent that he has bought a grave there.
The solicitor and his wife Mary Pat contend that their centre of main interest (COMI) is in Britain and they should be allowed declare bankruptcy there, an attempt that is being contested in the High Court in London by Bank of Ireland, to which they owe €71m.
Speaking on his second day of testimony yesterday, Mr O'Donnell said their experience in Ireland had been "very bad" and the economy was in some ways worse than in Greece.
He said the couple had decided that their residence, futures and lives would be in London, so much so that they had bought a grave there.
When questioned by counsel for the bank, Gabriel Moss, that he did not have the grave in March, Mr O'Donnell said that he did now and denied fabricating evidence.
Under Irish law, bankruptcy can take up to 12 years to be completed, while in the UK it can take as little as 12 months. Bank of Ireland wants the couple to be bankrupted in Ireland.
"I have no intention of going back to Dublin and no one can compel me to live in a place I don't want to live," Mr O'Donnell told the court.
He said he intends on writing a book about his experience in business and would like to do so from London. He said they no longer have any business interests in Ireland.
Citing the financial pressures on some in Ireland, Mr O'Donnell said that a "good business colleague" had committed suicide two nights previously because of the pressure. The person was not named in court.
The court heard how Mr O'Donnell had wanted his properties to be handed back to him so that he could act, as Mr Moss said, as the "de facto receiver" on them. Mr O'Donnell said there had been a situation with some of the Nama debtors who worked with the agency as they knew the market well.
He said that if he had been allowed to manage the properties, it would have been for the good of Bank of Ireland. The O'Donnells say they have been based in London since 2005.
Questioned on his tax affairs, Mr O'Donnell said he did not think it was necessary to tell the UK tax authorities that his company, Vico Capital, was trading there when he moved over. He said he had since registered with the revenue services. Mr O'Donnell is expected to give further evidence today.