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Central Bank tells Custom House to stop client pay-outs

WEALTH manager Custom House Capital has stopped paying out money to customers following an order from the Central Bank.

The troubled Merrion Square-based company has been told by the regulator to stop making the payments to clients in order to protect the interests of all customers, the Central Bank told the Irish Independent yesterday.

"The Central Bank is engaged with Custom House Capital and is conducting inquiries on a number of issues. We are working to have the issues resolved by the firm. In the meantime directions have been imposed by the Central Bank placing restrictions on the firm. Any actions taken by the Central Bank are taken in the best interest of customers," a spokeswoman for the bank said. She declined to give any further details.

Custom House specialises in pensions for wealthy clients and has invested heavily in the German and French property markets over the past few years. The 14-year-old company said in 2008 that the Harry Cassidy-managed company had assets worth €1.5bn for 1,500 clients.

The company said last month that it was transferring its non-property fund management business to Appian Asset Management.

The company began restructuring its business after a warning from auditors MKO Partners about its ability to continue as a going concern.

The fund manager's 2010 results noted that Custom House Capital faced a maximum contingent liability of €15.8m or three times the company's capital.

This led the auditors to note the ''existence of a material uncertainty, which may cast significant doubt about the company's ability to continue as a going concern''.

The auditors added that the company was ''significantly reliant on the recoverability of debtor balances from property-related entities".

Irish Independent