Friday 31 October 2014

Court files on the businessmen who went broke reveal expensive cars and foreign hideaways

Published 17/11/2012 | 05:00

THE bankruptcy files held by the Courts Service at its Smithfield headquarters tell tales of rises and falls, hubris, and human misery.

It's there that you can learn that Sean Quinn still co-owns a Mercedes worth €60,000 and that his registered name is "John Ignatius Quinn".

And there are files on other famous bankrupts, Sean FitzPatrick and Tom McFeely.

But the office also holds information on more than 100 other individuals who have gone broke since the start of the economic crisis.

Today FM DJ Tony Fenton was declared bankrupt last November following a petition taken against him by the Revenue Commissioners for unpaid taxes of almost €880,000.

The 51-year-old has previously said that property investments designed to secure his pension led to his bankruptcy.

Speaking of his financial difficulties in one interview, he said: "My hand was forced, bankruptcy was the only road available to me. I am in the process now and am having to deal with it on a daily basis."

Other less well-known bankrupts include a Nama developer, a wholesaler who was made bankrupt by debts for cigarettes and alcohol, and a doctor whose fitness-to-practice case led to his ruin.

Meath builder John Burke's statement of affairs filed with the bankruptcy office shows debts of more than €50m.

AIB and Nama are listed as creditors for about €20m in loans and Bank of Scotland is owed another €27m.

He says that he is personally liable for about €20m of the debt, once his business partners' share is subtracted.

It was building supplies firm Chadwicks Ltd that petitioned for his bankruptcy over a debt of €172,000.

Mr Burke told the Irish Independent that he didn't file for bankruptcy in the UK because he couldn't afford the costs of relocating.

He said he would have liked to have taken that option because, as he put it: "The English don't have the same stigma attached to bankruptcy that we do."

He estimated that his firm had built more than 300 houses in Meath and Westmeath during the boom and said: "If I had sold everything in 2006, cashed in my chips, I'd be a very wealthy man right now."

Mr Burke is philosophical about his current situation, saying: "It didn't work out that way – such is life, you know." He said that ultimately he'd like to get back into the building trade when his bankruptcy is discharged.

Mr Burke will benefit from the reduction of the ban on becoming a company director from 12 to three years when new legislation is introduced by the Government next year.

Another case is that of Cork-based businessman John Galvin who was adjudicated bankrupt this year with debts of €30m. The former boss of Galvin's Wholesale, his bankruptcy came about after a petition by cigarette manufacturer Player and Sons Ltd, who are owed more than €380,000.

Diageo, the alcohol giant, is another unsecured creditor, owed a further €1.9m.

Mr Galvin's statement of affairs lists assets of €5.4m, including a house in San Diego, California.

Disgraced doctor James Barry, from Glanmire, Co Cork, also appears in the bankruptcy files.

The 86-year-old was struck off in 2007 after he was found guilty of gross professional misconduct for secretly video-taping female patients and conducting inappropriate examinations on them.

The petition of bankruptcy against him was brought by the London-based Medical Defence Union, for €440,000 owed by Mr Barry.

Irish Independent

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