independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Irish taxpayers forced to pick up McFeely's €233m tab

Tom McFeely
Tom McFeely

ROGUE developer Tom McFeely has cost Irish taxpayers an eye-watering €233m through his failed developments and negligent building practices, the Sunday Independent has learned.

As the former bomber turned builder looks forward to his second Christmas as a bankrupt, the State will be counting the cost of McFeely's negligence for years to come.

Taxpayers can expect to pick up a tab of more than €30m for cleaning up the mess he left behind at the death trap apartment complex, Priory Hall, according to new estimates.

The Exchequer can write off the €500,000 that he admitted he owes the Revenue Commissioners. He and his companies have debts of €200m with Nama, but the State bad bank is expected to recoup just a fraction of what is owed.

Around 87 families are in the process of transferring ownership of their properties to Dublin City Council, which will take on their mortgages and any other liabilities on the properties.

Michael Dowling, the financial adviser who helped broker a deal for the Priory Hall residents, said the average mortgage was €250,000, which would leave the city council liable for debts of more than €20m.

Dublin City Council has not disclosed whether the banks agreed to a write down on some of the Priory Hall mortgages when they were taken over by the local authority, which would ultimately reduce the cost to taxpayers.

In addition, the city council has also paid roughly €3m on securing the complex and paying rent for more than 250 residents who had to be evacuated, while it is believed to have spent hundreds of thousands on legal costs.

Irish taxpayers aren't the only ones lumped with his debts. He landed British taxpayers with a hefty bill of £150,000 when he tried to sign up for their lenient one- year bankruptcy process.

It emerged in court records that his British bankruptcy trustee spent this sum investigating his affairs, including whether he was getting secret rents from an apartment block in London.

During the unsuccessful bankruptcy bid in the UK, McFeely had declared he owed €500,000 to the Revenue but had just €6,000 to his name.

McFeely was eventually declared bankrupt in Ireland last year. The Revenue Commissioners says he and his failed companies owe PAYE, PRSI and other taxes.

He got a personal loan of €30m, along with his business partner, from Irish Nationwide Building Society to build Priory Hall, along with other loans of over €160m. Those debts are now in Nama.

Nama has so far recouped just under €3m from the sale of McFeely's family home on Ailesbury Road last year. McFeely bought the house for more than €9m and had mortgage repayments of €49,853 a month. It was recently repossessed by Nama.

The €200,000 in cash found hidden in a bathroom by the property's new owners was released to the official assignee in charge of McFeely's bankruptcy. At their request, €5,000 was released to Stephanie Meehan, a former resident of Priory Hall who blamed her husband's suicide on the debacle. Her open letter to the Taoiseach about the residents' plight eventually forced the Government to find a solution for the residents who were left paying mortgages on worthless homes.

McFeely, who is believed to be living in Blackrock, is expected to emerge from bankruptcy in 2015. Sources say he is already gearing up to go back into business.

Irish Independent

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