Business Irish

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Irish suffer most after investment company loses €22m

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Laparco liquidated as Polish property punt fails to deliver

A Luxembourg firm used by a swathe of Irish investors to plough millions of euro into an ultimately failed punt on Polish property is being voluntarily liquidated.

Documents filed in the Duchy and seen by the Irish Independent show that George Maloney, of accountancy firm Baker Tilly Ryan Glennon in Dublin, has just been appointed liquidator of the Luxembourg company, called Laparco.

Laparco had accumulated losses of over €22m at the end of 2009, the latest year for which accounts are publicly available.

Investors in the company included over 40 Irish business people. Among them was investment banker Derek Kehoe, from Dublin, who stumped up €1m for the vehicle.

Others included Paddy and Emer Digna, a pharmacist and retired teacher from Howth, Dublin. They invested €3m.

A number of property developers also put money into Laparco. They included Brendan Colivet, of Punchestown, Co Kildare, and Paul Joyce, of Turnerstown, Athy, Co Kildare. They invested €1m and €500,000 respectively.

Laparco's funds -- raised in 2007 -- were to be used to bankroll an investment scheme called 'Project Poland'.

Accountancy firm BDO Simpson Xavier had earlier showcased the opportunity to a number of rich clients and other potential investors.

The Laparco funds were due to be managed by Howard Holdings, a Cork property group, in which Kingspan co-founder Brendan Murtagh was a non-executive director and in which he had a 40pc stake.

But in November 2009, Laparco secured a €28.1m judgment against Mr Murtagh, Howard Holdings' chief executive Greg Coughlan and the Cork firm's finance director, Brian Madden.

Laparco had argued that Mr Coughlan had failed to adhere to agreements related to its investment.

In August 2009, a Polish bank had demanded early repayment of loans to Polish companies involved in the 'Project Poland' scheme.

Laparco claimed Mr Coughlan was obliged to complete a €27.7m acquisition of option shares in the companies. Mr Coughlan failed to do so, leading Laparco to secure the judgment against him, Mr Murtagh and Mr Madden.

Laparco returned to court in early 2010 in an effort to recover its judgment and to establish the extent of assets owned by the three men.

The court was told at the time that Mr Murtagh -- once one of Ireland's richest businessmen with a €200m fortune -- was insolvent.

Last year, Laparco's investors commenced legal action against BDO in court, seeking €20m. The investors made allegations of negligence and breach of contract against the firm, which BDO has denied.

Laparco's accounts for 2009 show it recorded a €190,460 loss that year, bringing its accumulated loss to just over €22m.

Irish Independent

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