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Saturday 22 July 2017

Carroll signs houses away to protect against seizure

RONALD QUINLAN Exclusive

EMBATTLED property tycoon Liam Carroll has moved to protect both his present and former family homes from the possibility of seizure by the banks or Nama, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Documents lodged at the Registry of Deeds in April of this year show how the Dundalk-born developer signed the two properties, located in the south-Dublin suburb of Mount Merrion over to his wife Roisin on March 18 and 26 respectively.

Taken together, the Carroll houses are estimated to have a combined worth of €2.5m, notwithstanding the current depressed condition of the residential property market.

Interestingly, the move by the so-called "shycoon" to put both of his Dublin houses into his wife's name came just four months prior to his first application to have six key companies within his Zoe Group placed into examinership.

Mr Carroll was forced to seek the protection of the courts afforded by the process after the ACC Bank sought to have his companies wound up over his failure to repay the €136m debt he owes them.

With that application for examinership rejected by both the High Court and Supreme Court, Mr Carroll's companies were back before the High Court last week with a fresh petition based on an amended business plan seeking protection from the Dutch-owned ACC Bank.

With both Carroll houses now owned solely by the developer's wife, any move by any bank or the Government's new asset management agency to take possession of them will effectively be rendered useless.

Last Tuesday, the High Court heard how Mr Carroll had earlier this year given personal guarantees amounting to €34m to allow for the draw down of additional bank funds for the payment of unsecured creditors of the Zoe Group of companies.

Neither house was offered as part of those guarantees.

While Mr Carroll can be assured of a roof over his head whatever the outcome of the ACC Bank's efforts to put the Zoe Group into liquidation, other developers may not be so fortunate.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent last month, Defence Minister Willie O'Dea confirmed that developers' homes offered as part collateral on bank loans could be seized by Nama.

Mr O'Dea said: "In cases where developers have given their homes as part collateral, Nama will automatically step into the shoes of the banks, gaining the right to take possession where they see fit."

The Defence Minister added that this could only happen where the developer's spouse had consented to the family home being offered as part collateral.

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