independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Marley billed firm for Vegas trip and for tanning salons

Philip Marley and girlfriend Dana Wilkey

A BILL for $6,000 (€4,560) from Las Vegas, frequent trips to tanning salons and mystery payments of £7,000 (€8,605) to a Mayfair pharmacy in London are among the expenses billed by Philip Marley, the student accommodation developer, to his old business in the year before he resigned.

Marley, who plans to get into reality television production in America, said he was entitled to submit these bills to his old company, Space Student Living Limited, a student accommodation business based in London.

"I am never going to apologise for medical spending on looking good or on my entertainment budget. That's how I roll," Marley said.

His former co-investor in Space, Maven Capital Partners, however, is disputing the validity of these expense payments as part of larger battle with Marley that has seen the private equity firm sue the Dubliner for £2m in Manchester High Court.

Marley admitted he had billed Space for weekly trips to the tanning salon but he said this was essential to both treat a skin condition and ensure he looked good for presentations.

He refused to comment on whether he had spent the company's money on human growth hormone, a treatment popular among celebrities to reverse the effects of the ageing process. Marley would only confirm that he had made payments to a Mayfair pharmacy but he would not say for what. The total paid was £7,000 in several monthly instalments.

"Any medicine I took was to improve my appearance," Marley said. "Vanity is important for a CEO. The trouble with a lot of Irish CEOs is that they look crap."

Marley admitted he had used the company's credit card in Las Vegas but said it was during an "investor road show". He declined to comment on who was with him at the time. "You have to be prepared to entertain [to get ahead in business]," he said.

Marley said he had submitted his expenses for approval by Space's other directors. "Maven had two board directors. They never complained about me getting browner. . . is that their best shot?"

Maven is alleging Marley "misrepresented" his original investment in the business as being £800,000 in cash when it was in reality a "worthless" bond issued in Costa Rica. The private equity firm, which manages £280m on the behalf of 11,000 investors, says it would never have originally gotten involved with Marley if it had known this.

"Any suggestion that he obtained his shareholding by anything other than deception is false," Bill Nixon, the chief executive of Maven, said.

Marley, however said that Maven was engaging in "complete spin", as he claimed the bond was a "valid consideration", and that he had taken legal advice before using it.

'They never complained about me getting browner – is that their best shot?'

Forensic accountants have identified £800,000 in payments and expenses that Maven now want explained by Marley, Nixon said.

He called on Marley in particular to provide contractual proof of €250,000 the businessmen says was paid from Space to an interior design company to refurbish student accommodation.

Marley told the Sunday Independent that every action he had taken was fully above board. "They took my company off me and ruined it," he alleged, "Now they are looking for someone to blame."

Marley plans to become a reality TV producer in America where his girlfriend is Dana Wilkey, the star of Real Housewives of Beverley Hills.

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