Priory Hall developer Thomas McFeely has his bankruptcy extended by almost five years
Published 01/06/2016 | 11:55
The High Court has extended the bankruptcy of Priory Hall developer Thomas McFeely by almost five years over "very grave" failures to co-operate with the bankruptcy trustee, including failures to disclose his interest in 12 apartments in Dublin.
Five years is the maximum period by which a bankruptcy may be extended but Ms Justice Caroline Costello said Mr McFeely's conduct warranted an extension of almost that period.
She reduced the five year period by some two months to take into account Mr McFeely's age of 67.
The effect is that Mr McFeely, whose bankruptcy was set to expire in July 2015, will now exit bankruptcy in May 2020.
He was adjudicated bankrupt here in July 2012, with substantial debts including €200m owed to NAMA. He was previously adjudicated bankrupt in England and Wales but that was rescinded after a woman owed €100,000 by companies of Mr McFeely brought proceedings here.
Mr McFeelly, who was not in court today, had opposed as disproportionate and oppressive the extension sought by Chris Lehane, the official assignee administering the bankruptcy.
The judge upheld arguments by Bernard Dunleavy SC, for Mr Lehane, the extent of non-cooperation justified the bankruptcy being extended.
The non-cooperation and failure to disclose assets was on the "very grave" and "extreme end of the spectrum" and the extension should reflect that fact, the judge said.
In reality, Mr McFeely has refused to co-operate in any meaningful way with his bankruptcy, she said.
Mr McFeely's initial interview with Mr Lehane in August 2012 was, to Mr McFeely's knowledge, "misleading". He gave his address as his late parents' home in Claudy, Derry, when he knew he never resided there and did not intend to. He had also failed to disclose his interest in 12 properties.
He had also presented to Mr Lehane the statement of affairs which he had used for his English bankruptcy when he knew that was incomplete and continued thereafter to fail to co-operate with his bankruptcy.
He also sought to "dictate" to Mr Lehane where he would be interviewed, insisting Mr Lehane travel to Derry or pay him to travel to Dublin.
He also "unilaterally" decided that claims by third parties concerning his estate were valid and therefore his estate had no claim to certain properties. He also decided his 20 per cent interest in some properties "and quite possibly 100 per cent interest" was of nil commercial value although there was no charge on the relevant properties.
Were it not for the investigations of Mr Lehane, Mr McFeely's creditors would be at a loss as a result of his persistent breach of his statutory obligations, the judge added.
In these proceedings, Mr McFeely had "flatly refused" to provide the address or addresses where he now lives, failed to provide a sworn statement of affairs and has provided a statement of affairs prepared in his English bankruptcy which he knows to be false.
He had "greatly hindered" Mr Lehane in the administration of his estate and the effect of his non-cooperation was to severely prejudice the realisation of his estate for the benefit of his creditors.
In the circumstances, the court would extend the bankruptcy to May 2020. While the court would allow a small reduction in the five year period to take into account Mr McFeely's age, he was not entitled to any reduction to take into account the five months he was bankrupt in England, she held. This was in circumstances where Mr McFeely had chosen not to explain why that bankruptcy was annulled.