Sunday 17 November 2019

Flight of the developers as creditors tighten grip

Kelly quits plush D4 home while McNamara takes break in Marbella

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

It is the end of an era: two former billionaire developers, reeling from recent events, left the country last week, at least temporarily.

Bernard McNamara has taken flight for his villa in Marbella to "get his head around" the end of his 40-year career, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Embattled Redquartz chief Paddy Kelly, meanwhile, was understood to be travelling in Africa, while back in Dublin the removal men were clearing out his mansion on Shrewsbury Road to make way for staff from the Chinese Embassy, who are expected to take up residence there as early as this week.

As Bernard McNamara's dramatic downfall continued to dominate the headlines following his admission that he was laden down with €1.5bn in debts -- including a €62.5m personal guarantee -- the Clare-born developer and his wife, Moira, flew to Spain on Friday morning to seek respite from the maelstrom thrown up by the historic judgement granted to a group of wealthy Davy investors by Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

"He went into work on Thursday to take care of some paperwork, but that was about it. He's headed off to Spain with Moira to get away from it all. Sure if he stays around at home, he wouldn't even be able to go for a walk without bumping into some of the people who are now pursuing him to the ends of the Earth," a source close to the beleaguered developer said last night.

Lawyers for the Davy investors -- who include the former AIB Chairman Lochlann Quinn and Glen Dimplex founder Martin Naughton -- are expected to go back into court this week to seek discovery of Mr McNamara's personal assets in an aggressive effort to recover the money they loaned to the developer to make his ill-fated investment in the former Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend, Dublin. Their chances of securing any significant return from the process would appear to be uncertain at best.

A source close to Mr McNamara said that while the developer would be swearing an affidavit outlining the full extent of his personal assets upon his return to Ireland in the coming weeks, the list would be a "short one".

"There are no overseas assets or foreign bank accounts for them to plunder, and they're going to have to live with that," the source said.

Last Monday, the Commercial Court heard a solicitor for Mr McNamara had informed the Davy investors that all of the equity in his personal assets had been used to support his various businesses, an assertion that would appear to be borne out in documents held at the Registry of Deeds.

According to those records, copies of which have been seen by the Sunday Independent, Mr McNamara took out a fresh mortgage on his Ailesbury Road home with Anglo Irish Bank shortly before its nationalisation in 2009.

Should it be found that the troubled developer has no debt-free assets of any value, the Davy investors are expected to seek to have their claim against him registered against his other personal interests.

Mr McNamara, for his part, has already stated his intention to face up to the consequences of last week's multi-million euro judgement against him. In an emotional interview on RTE Radio's Drivetime last Wednesday evening, he said: "I am personally going to take all the consequences. My head will be on the plate for that. I'm not running anywhere. I'm going to stand here and face whatever the music is."

Over on Shrewsbury Road, meanwhile, debt-ridden developer Paddy Kelly and his wife, Maureen, have decided to take their leave of Clonmore, the house they built and named after his Laois hometown in the early 1990s.

Last Wednesday morning, the Sunday Independent was there as the furniture removal men arrived at the Kellys' pile to begin the process of transferring the developer's personal effects to an as-yet- unidentified rental property in the Ballsbridge area.

While Mr Kelly himself was out of the country, his wife Maureen confirmed that their decision to move was based on financial and personal considerations. Mrs Kelly stressed, however, that Clonmore was not up for sale.

A subsequent phone call from the developer's son, Simon, confirmed the Kellys' house would be rented out to the Chinese Embassy for use as a residence for its officials.

Commenting on Mr and Mrs Kelly's reasons for moving from Shrewsbury Road, their son said: "It's clearly a financial decision, but my mum has wanted to leave the house for a couple of years anyway. I said to my father, 'It's right that you move. If you want to go to a smaller house and downgrade a bit, that's the right thing to do. But, you know, developers can't be living in palaces can they?'"

Both Mr McNamara and Mr Kelly are understood to be among the top 10 developers whose borrowings are to be moved to the newly established National Asset Management Agency in its first wave of loan transfers, which is expected to be completed by early February.

Other major development names on that list include 'Shycoon' Liam Carroll, Cork-based Michael O'Flynn of O'Flynn Construction, Gannon Homes chief Gerry Gannon, Ballymore Properties boss Sean Mulryan, Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett of Treasury Holdings, John Fleming of John J. Fleming Construction, financier Derek Quinlan, as well as the men behind the Millennium Park development in Naas, Co Kildare -- Galway developer Tom Considine and his partners, Paddy Sweeney and Gerry Prendergast.

Sunday Independent

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