Sunday 30 April 2017

Taxman moves to wind up cafe king Bourke's company

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

BUSINESSMAN Jay Bourke faces his latest challenge after tax authorities moved to shut his company Sherland Entertainment.

Yesterday, solicitors for the Collector General of Taxes petitioned the High Court to have Sherland Entertainment wound up.

The case will be heard on November 14.

The revelation comes just weeks after Mr Bourke was blasted live on air on RTE's 'Liveline' by owners of small businesses that are owed tens of thousands of euro by some of his failed bars and restaurants.

The controversial bar-and-restaurant owner first hit the headlines when RTE hired him as the business guru on its 'The Mentor' programme in 2006, in which he advised the owners of small companies how to make it in business.

At the time, he was at the height of his business success.

Through a number of companies, Mr Bourke and business partner Eoin Foyle owned a string of trendy night spots and restaurants in Dublin, Cork and Sligo, including the Cafe Bar Deli chain, Eden restaurant in Dublin's Temple Bar and RiRa nightclub.

Since then, though, much of the business empire has disappeared.

The Globe Bar and RiRa nightclub in Dublin were sold for a reported €7m in 2007, but in recent years a number of other ventures have been shut down or put into liquidation.

That includes the luxury Bellinter House in Co Meath, which Mr Bourke developed at massive cost with partners John Reynolds and Simon Kelly, but it ended up being placed into liquidation.

Last night, Jim Mulchrone, a contractor who is still owed €55,000 for work he did on the hotel, said he had no choice but to threaten to cut off the water supply to the hotel after being left out of pocket for years.

Vital

Mr Mulchrone has little chance of being paid for his work because the company that hired him is in liquidation but he still owns the vital equipment that supplies water to the hotel and can shut it off, he said.

"(Mr Bourke) would promise you the sun the moon and the stars," he said.

But, Mr Mulchrone said, he failed to pay the debt.

Last night, Mr Bourke told the Irish Independent that he believed the tax case might never go to court.

"I think this is down to a misunderstanding," Mr Bourke said, adding that he believed no money was owed by Sherland to the Revenue and that the company (Sherland) had ceased trading.

Records in the Companies Office show that Sherland Entertainment filed company accounts in June this year, but these latest figures only cover the 12 months to the end of 2009.

At the time, less than €10,000 was owed in corporation tax, the accounts show.

Sherland has fallen foul of the Revenue Commissioners before. In 2009, the company was ordered to pay €158,815 in a tax settlement over unpaid VAT, following an audit of its books.

At the time, Mr Bourke said it was down to a mistake by the company.

"I'm tax compliant. I believe in paying tax, but we made an error," he is reported to have told newspapers at the time.

The latest accounts reveal that Sherland had assets valued at €800,000 at the end of 2009, but debts of nearly €2m.

Irish Independent

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