THE High Court has ruled that a businessman, described as the "driving force" behind a property investment firm that went bust in 2009, is unfit to be a company director.
Judge Elizabeth Dunne said accountant Alan Hynes, who the court was satisfied was a de facto director of Tuskar Asset Management (TAM) plc group, should be disqualified from being a company director for three years.
The judge said she was satisfied Mr Hynes had failed to account for, deal properly or provide an adequate explanation about the whereabouts of €3.1m of shareholder's funds. This was a clear breach of duty which rendered Mr Hynes unfit to be a director of a company, she said.
Neil Hughes, liquidator of TAM plc, sought orders under Section 160 of the Companies Act disqualifying Mr Hynes from involvement in the affairs of any company on grounds of unfitness.
The liquidator had made a number of claims against Mr Hynes including fraud. The matter of most serious concern to the liquidator was Mr Hynes' failure to adequately explain where €3.1m of shareholders funds had gone after the firm was wound up.
Mr Hughes said TAM was the holding company for a number of businesses involved in the buying and developing of land for investment with the aim of achieving capital growth for investors. Mr Hynes was its driving force.
Some €17m in total had been invested in TAM, which was incorporated in 2006, before the property collapse, in sums of between €100,000 and €1m. Many investors had their life savings wiped out due to Mr Hynes' actions, it was claimed.
Alternatively, the liquidator asked the court to restrict Mr Hynes, under Section 150 of the Companies Act, from involvement in any companies which do not meet certain capitalisation requirements.
Mr Hynes, of Westwinds, Crosstown, Co Wexford, opposed the liquidator's application and denied wrongdoing. He said he did not benefit from the collapse of the company and denied claims that he was involved in fictitious accounting.
The judge, who agreed not to formalise her orders until both parties had fully considered her judgment, adjourned the case to a date in early October when all outstanding issues will be dealt with.