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Grafton and Cox executives in private land deal

Senior executives at builders' merchants and DIY group Grafton invested in a property on Thomas Street in Dublin in a personal capacity with one of their solicitors.

Arthur Cox's Ronan Walsh, who is now a consultant at the legal firm, was part of a consortium that also included Grafton's executive chairman Michael Chadwick and finance director Colm O'Nuallain which took advantage of the capital allowances available for multi-storey car parks in 1998. Grafton's company secretary Charles Rinn, retired managing director Norman Kilroy and former director Fergus Malone were among the other investors.

"This was a private transaction and did not require disclosure," a spokesman for Grafton said. "Grafton uses a range of services from different firms of solicitors depending on the expertise required. Several different legal advisers are disclosed in the annual report."

A&L Goodbody and British solicitors Lyons Davidson also act for the publicly quoted company.

Walsh directed queries to Arthur Cox's marketing and public relations department. The firm then declined to comment. He advised Grafton Group from the 1980s, including advising it on the takeover of Heitons, which was named business deal of the year in 2005. Arthur Cox is one of the largest legal firms in Europe, has advised both the Government and Bank of Ireland on the financial crisis and earlier this year won the HSE's legal services contract, worth €58m over three years.

The 1995 Finance Act brought in several tax incentives for multi-storey car-parks, and extended the reliefs to those areas that did not qualify under urban renewal legislation. The reliefs include accelerated capital and double rent allowances.

They were due to expire in 1998 but were extended beyond that subject to certain conditions being met.

Sunday Indo Business