Monday 25 September 2017

'He gave me nothing and even refused me a job in restaurant'

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

HE is a victim of the collapse of Mick Wallace's building empire.

Painter and tiler Ioan Hotca is facing the threat of losing his home if he cannot clear his mortgage arrears.

He owes the bank €9,281.16 -- but cannot pay this debt as he is now on social welfare.

His van was repossessed and he can't get credit from paint and tile stores because of a bill he racked up on his personal account while carrying out work for M&J Wallace Ltd.

The Romanian-born father, who has lived in Wexford town since 1997, has watched his business being wiped out in the past few years.

He says that Mick Wallace gave him a contract after he went to him in 2007 to ask the builder if he had work. He said he had "no complaints" and was "happy with the work" until the recession hit.

"We did get on very well while I was working for him and that's why I didn't want to sue. I have been lenient until now but the banks aren't giving me any leniency, and I need the money, it's time for desperate measures," he said.

Mr Hotca, who has a six-year-old daughter, said he had up to 10 staff working with him on the last contract for M&J Wallace Ltd.

He claims he invoiced Mr Wallace's firm €80,000 for this work -- but agreed to halve the bill when it became clear the company was unable to pay the amount in full. It is now whittled down to €28,000. He needed the cash for suppliers and workers.

"I still have two workers to pay. I actually paid most of them while I was going along (in repayments) but that was until I lost all the contracts two years ago," he said.

Mr Hotca said he had an overdraft with the bank to allow him to supply the materials for the work. He also had an account with a paint and tile store.

Delay

He was waiting on M&J Wallace Ltd to pay his invoice to cover the cost of materials he used.

The delay in receiving payment means he has mounting debts and a bad credit rating.

"If I go to the bank now and ask them for a €100 loan, I won't qualify for anything," he said.

He also said he "lost a couple of contracts" because he cannot get credit from hardware stores.

"I had to come to an agreement (with one shop) to do work for them because I couldn't afford to pay off the account. I would do anything to pay my bills.

"That's why I even asked Mick Wallace to give me a job in his restaurant or let me sell a digger. He gave me nothing."

Mr Hotca said he is not entitled to any assistance for his mortgage.

"I went to his office in Dublin late last year. I was broke and I practically begged for €1,000 just to get me over the Christmas. His accountants said 'no, we have no money'.

"If he had have done the €500 a month that we agreed, I'd have been able to pay the mortgage."

Irish Independent

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