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Sunday 21 September 2014

One of Nama's most wanted declared bankrupt in UK

Published 11/11/2012 | 05:00

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BERNARD McNamara -- one of Nama's biggest and most indebted developers -- has declared bankruptcy in London, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

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Records filed with the UK's insolvency service show the Clare-born builder finally called full time on the massive property empire he had built up over 40 years on November 2 last.

Referring to himself in his bankruptcy application by his baptismal name of Michael Bernard, Mr McNamara supplied three addresses to the High Court of Justice, two in the west London district of Chiswick and one in Ireland.

As his Irish address, the 62-year-old builder gave the details of his former palatial home on Ailesbury Road. The 10,000 sq ft mansion has since been sold for €10m in cash to billionaire JP McManus's wife Noreen.

With the UK's bankruptcy regime typically allowing for automatic discharge in 12 months, Mr McNamara, who in the boom times was one of Ireland's most successful business figures, will see his responsibility for any part of the more than €1.5bn his various building and development companies owe to Nama and the banks removed on November 2, 2013.

Not that the businessman, who comes originally from Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare, intends on waiting to get back into business. An investigation by the Sunday Independent has established that Mr McNamara has an office up and running on the Chiswick High Road, where he is being assisted by his son, Michael Jr.

Also in situ at the serviced office complex up until recently was Simcoe Industries, a company headed up by the developer's wife, Moira.

Describing himself as a construction consultant with over 40 years of managing major infrastructural projects, Mr McNamara is now understood to be travelling for work on a frequent basis between London and West Africa.

When in the UK, the developer has been residing in a modern 2,000 sq ft house in Chiswick, which, according to estate agent Savills commands a monthly rent of €7,500 (£6,000). Here in Ireland, meanwhile, Mr McNamara and his wife are understood to be maintaining another home in the south Dublin suburb of Mount Merrion, on a road where average asking prices for houses still hover in the region of €750,000.

The former property tycoon's comfortable living arrangements will invariably lead to questions in relation to Nama and its efforts to recover the hundreds of millions his companies still owe the Irish taxpayer.

Interestingly, Mr McNamara submitted his UK bankruptcy application nearly two years to the day since Nama put Michael McNamara Construction, the company founded by his late father in 1935, into receivership.

Since the onset of the economic crisis four years ago, the developer has engaged in what could only be described as a valiant battle to keep his business and career on the road.

Indeed, when the Sunday Independent first raised questions in May 2008 on Mr McNamara's sheer indebtedness and its sustainability, he broke his silence and took to the airwaves on RTE's Marian Finucane Show to decry our assertion that his companies owed €1.5bn.

Unfortunately for him, that damning figure was accurate, a fact he readily admitted in an emotional interview on RTE Radio 1's Drivetime in January 2010 after consenting in the Commercial Court to a personal judgement of €62.5m against him by a group of Davy investors who had backed his involvement in the ill-fated redevelopment of the former Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend.

As a €412m speculative punt, the IGB deal still stands out for many as the point at which Bernard McNamara had finally flown too close to the sun.

Sunday Independent

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