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Investor who lost €308k in Goodbody property fund appeals Ombudsman ruling to High Court

A WOMAN who lost an entire €308,000 investment over what she claims was misrepresentation by Goodbody Stockbrokers about the risk involved had ample opportunity to complain it had been mis-sold to her before the fund crashed, the High Court heard yesterday.

Mary Carty-Doyle, a 50-year-old factory supervisor from Loughrea in Galway, wants an order setting aside a decision by the Financial Services Ombudsman to reject her complaint against Goodbody over investment advice.

She invested around €308,000 in 2005 through Goodbody into what she said was sold as a commercial property fund investing in Northern Ireland. She claims it was represented to her as a safe investment with potentially good returns, but Goodbody says the fund was high risk and this was explained to her.

Ms Carty-Doyle says she was told the fund would invest mainly in commercial property when it actually invested in residential property, which was wiped away in the economic crash and was wiped out by 2009.

It is claimed it was never made clear to her a huge portion of the fund would be invested in building land, including residential land, and to effectively prop up ailing building firms like Taggart Developments which went into administration in Northern Ireland.

Ms Carty-Doyle complained to the Ombudsman that Goodbody was in breach of duty and breach of contract by failing to properly advise her before she invested. She also says the risk was not adequately explained to her.

The Ombudsman ruled in favour of Goodbody, which had argued the investment was appropriate for an investor of her experience, risk tolerance and objectives.

She has now appealed that decision to the High Court against the Ombudsman with Goodbody as notice party, who both dispute her claims.

Yesterday, Paul Anthony McDermott, for the Ombudsman, said even though Ms Carty-Doyle had been made aware, after making the investment, of the residential element in the fund, she had not told Goodbody to get her out of it.

It was not until it was wiped out, due to a global crash, that she complained about it, counsel said.

Seamus O Tuathail, a barrister acting for Ms Carty Doyle, told the court the Ombudsman had failed to probe the high risk nature of the investment.

There were issues over whether Goodbody portfolio manager TJ Scully told her that a warning about investment risk was merely precautionary or pro-forma.

There was a further issue over whether there was reckless leveraging – borrowing to increase the value of the fund – of the overall investment which originally was supposed to be €20m but ultimately was more than 10 times that, counsel said.

Up until 2009, Goodbody had informed her the fund was worth around €259,000, or an 18.2pc drop in the original fund, but seven weeks later told her it was worth nothing, counsel said.

The hearing continues before Daniel Herbert.

Irish Independent