Wife's BMW taken 'to embarrass us', says developer
A PROPERTY developer whose wife's car was allegedly seized by a bank because of an unpaid debt was warned that failure to pay would result in more of his goods being taken.
Yesterday, developer Paddy Kelly claimed his BMW 7 series was seized by the Dublin City Sheriff this week in an attempt to "embarrass" him, and that bailiffs knew it belonged to his wife.
But the sheriff said yesterday that the seizure of goods for non-payment of debt was a last-resort measure, and suggested that Mr Kelly would previously have received a letter requesting the payment of the debt.
Refusing to comment on personal cases, a spokesman for the sheriff's office said that goods were only taken if a debtor refused to engage.
"Seizure of goods is way down the road," he said. "No doubt a judgment was issued -- if there there's no payment, then an execution order is secured.
"That's where we step in. We will write to the person and if there's no response then we seize the goods."
Mr Kelly owes various banks €350m and the car was seized on foot of a court order obtained by ACC Bank which won a judgement in April against Mr Kelly and his sons Simon and Christopher for €16.9m.
He told a newspaper that the car was seized without warning when he was not at home, and that it belonged to his wife and had been taken unlawfully.
"I don't know if it was for show or . . . trying to embarrass us or whatever. We are going to take legal advice on this," he said.
Mr Kelly said he had never owned the car, and that the sheriff's office knew it was in his wife's name. Last month, Mr Kelly revealed that he had bought the 2003-registered car in 2003 for €139,000. Similar models were on sale yesterday for €25,000.
He has also moved from his home on Dublin's Shrewsbury Road to a new address on Morehampton Road in Donnybrook.
Meanwhile, the city sheriff's office said it was dealing with an increased number of cases from credit unions where debtors were unable to pay back loans taken out for new cars and holidays. The problem was particularly acute in disadvantaged areas, the spokesman said.
"Seizures are up this year in the civil work," he said.
"There's been a big increase in credit union work.
"The loans could come from cars or holidays, and you see a lot in disadvantaged areas. In some cases, there's no goods to seize.
"It's tough times for everybody. We always given the person the opportunity to buy back their goods before we put them up for auction. We've held a number of cars over the year for people."
The sheriff is an officer of the court and is charged with recovering unpaid debt to businesses and banks, and it also works on behalf of the Revenue Commissioners.