Monday 29 May 2017

IRA man owned nine properties during the boom

Former Republican who owes €2.6m to CAB over failed tax appeal had mortgages of €1.5m

Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

A FORMER IRA leader amassed nine properties, including an apartment and a berth on a marina in Spain, during the boom.

John Noonan, who lives in a former council house in Tallaght, Dublin, and claimed an income of around €4,000 a month, obtained five mortgages worth more than €1.5m and accumulated investments and insurance policies worth hundreds of thousands of euro.

Details of the convicted IRA man's finances are disclosed in court filings relating to his bankruptcy. Noonan declared himself bankrupt last year after his appeal against a €2.6m tax demand from the Criminal Assets Bureau failed.

The court's official assignee was unable to progress his investigation into Noonan's financial affairs, and CAB has taken over the job of liquidating his assets to pay off creditors.

There is also a disputed sum of several hundred thousand euro which was lodged to a bank account in the name of Peter Simpson. Noonan claimed he operated the bank account for the "Republican movement" but CAB suspect the money was Noonan's.

The attractive portfolio of assets and stocks sits uneasily with the former adjutant officer with the IRA's Dublin Brigade. He served five years in jail for firearms offences in the 1970s. By his own admission, he was a "senior figure in the Republican movement" until 2004. He used to be regarded as an associate of Gerry Adams and was a prominent anti-drugs campaigner who ran unsuccessfully for election for Sinn Fein. He set up several security and taxi companies in the 1990s but now makes a living working for Strand Security Services, an agency that has protected stars such as Bono and Cate Blanchett.

In recent years he started writing crime novels but he still came to the attention of gardai and CAB began investigating him.

According to his statement of affairs sworn in September last year, he was cash poor and in hock to the banks.

He claimed a net income of €2,714 a month from Strand Security Services and £1,084 from a related company, Gold Card Security. He had accounts with two banks in Alicante, Spain, one containing €1,076 and the other €36.86. He had €18.48 with Bank of Ireland in Tallaght.

He had five mortgages totalling more than €1.5m. He borrowed €853,658 from Bank of Scotland Ireland, where Phil Flynn, the former Sinn Fein vice president, was a former chairman. He had two mortgages with Permanent TSB, one for €136,258 and the second for €225,000; and two with Ulster Bank, one for €65,500 and the second for €269,172.

He is listed as joint owner of a house in Kilcowan, Baldwinstown, Co Wexford, valued at €275,000. He was joint owner of three units in the Foundry, an apartment and retail complex in the north inner city and his share was valued at some €300,000. He also owned a share in a €200,000 apartment in City West; a 50 per cent share in a €180,000 house on Sundale Road in Tallaght and his share of the family home in Kilmartin Gardens in Tallaght, worth €150,000. Those properties are all mortgaged.

His apartment in Alicante appeared mortgage-free, however. The apartment, in a golf complex, Campo de Golf, was valued at €160,000 and he owned half. He was also the licence holder on a marina berth in Torrievaja, which has four years left to run.

Noonan's investments suffered in the slump. He invested €15,000 in a Signature Lump Sum Bond with Irish Nationwide but as of September last year it was worth €7,836. A retirement account in which he invested €37,710 was worth €7,836. And €20,713 he invested in a Signature Saver account was worth €15,704. His life assurance policy cost €362 per month and would pay out €126,973 and €63,486. His two mortgage protection policies provided cover of €200,000 and €145,000.

As well as owing €2.6m to CAB, Noonan also owes more than €53,000 to three creditors. He owes €25,000 to solicitors firm Sheridan Quinn; €25,000 which he borrowed from Strand Security Services; and he also owes his local credit union in Tallaght €3,650.

In an affidavit, the official appointed by the court to oversee the bankruptcy said Noonan "failed to engage in a meaningful manner". Frank Cassidy, the CAB's legal officer, was appointed trustee over Noonan's estate last month after noting the "considerable difficulty" the court official was likely to encounter in investigating Noonan's financial affairs.

Court filings noted that Noonan had sworn under oath that: "Up until 2004, I was a senior member of the Republican movement. I had a bank account under the name of Peter Simpson which was operated for the Republican movement."

The case will be back before the High Court in May.

Sunday Independent

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