FORMER Fine Gael minister Ivan Yates has been discharged from bankruptcy in the UK.
Records filed with the UK's Insolvency Service show that Mr Yates secured a clean bill of financial health yesterday, having fulfilled the requirements set down by Swansea County Court, where he made his application for personal insolvency just 12 months ago.
Mr Yates will resume his broadcasting career as a presenter with Newstalk this Wednesday morning.
The former politician, bookmaker and radio broadcaster's declaration of bankruptcy on August 31 last year effectively brought to an end a hugely turbulent and traumatic period in his life and career. Having tried in vain to keep his Celtic Bookmakers empire afloat, Mr Yates found himself being aggressively pursued by AIB – his single biggest creditor – for the repayment of €3.69m it claimed he owed the bank.
The popular Wexford-born businessman had come perilously close to being bankrupted here in Ireland in the weeks before he lodged his own petition in the UK, when the AIB brought an application to the High Court in Dublin. Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne struck the application out, however, finding that Mr Yates had raised "real and substantive issues" in respect of the amount being sought by the AIB.
Referring to the bank's efforts to have him declared bankrupt by the High Court in Dublin, Mr Yates claimed in an affidavit to the court that the bank had pursued him out of a "sense of vindictiveness and a desire to make an example out of me as a high-profile individual".
Sensationally, he also claimed that the bank's officials had told him that were he to receive a debt write-off, it would set a precedent, which, if applied to AIB's Irish loan book would "close down the country". Speaking to the Sunday Independent in the immediate aftermath of his UK declaration of bankruptcy last year, Mr Yates defended his move, saying: "I was essentially forced to quit my work and flee the country. The stress of trying to maintain my media career and conduct my affairs proved almost impossible. I was forced to dislocate myself from my family, isolate myself from my friends and move over here."
Mr Yates put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the state-owned AIB over its pursuit of him for the €3.69m it claimed he owed.
"They refused to stop the debt clock on my loans when the company went into receivership and they made my position impossible," he said. "I would have had to earn over €8,000 a week to simply pay the interest on my outstanding loans."
And in remarks that many people will see as being even more relevant to today, Mr Yates added: "The banks and others are maintaining that some day, somehow clients will be able to magic up money out of some place to pay their debts. But eventually it will dawn on the investing institutions and the ECB that this is not going to happen. Until there is an end game to the tsunami of personal and other debt, the country will continue, the banks will continue, to live on a hand-to-mouth basis until there is a rational policy of debt settlement.
"For us, the day of reckoning has come but for others – the 15,000 entrepreneurs, the 150,000 mortgage holders in arrears – the treadmill will go on and on."
In the case of AIB, documents lodged by receiver Neil Hughes of Hughes Blake Chartered Accountants showed the state-owned bank received €1.5m in the first six months of the receivership in 2011, and €400,000 in the first six months of 2012. The bank received no additional monies in the final six months of last year.
The receivership has raised a total of €2.8m from the sale of Celtic Bookmakers' premises around the country and its fixtures and fittings.
The liquidation of Celtic Bookmakers, meanwhile, has left little more than €1,001 to be distributed among its unsecured creditors following the first full year of the process.