Sunday 24 June 2018

'One year you got a slab of smoked salmon delivered to your door as a Christmas present and the next year you got a High Court summons' - Finbarr Filan on bankruptcy

Finbarr and Shane Filan
Finbarr and Shane Filan
Finbarr Filan

Sasha Brady and Mary McDonnell

Finbarr Filan, the brother of Westlife star Shane, has said the brothers came to their lowest point when they lost their business in the financial crash.

Shafin Developments, the property company the brothers established together, went bust in 2012.

The singer, faced with a bill of €23m, was declared bankrupt. His brother Finbarr has revealed he was declared bankrupt last Monday to the tune of €15 million. 

The Sligo businessman, who is chair of the Sligo Business Improvement District, said it took him five years longer than Shane to be declared bankrupt.

Finbarr Filan
Finbarr Filan

"At the time and Shane was seen as the mark, the guy with the money, and I was seen as the one supporting it," he told Today with Sean O'Rourke.

"I spent the next number of years working with the banks, disposing of the assets and having an orderly wind down with the companies but in the meantime my loans were sold - not once but twice - and all of a sudden I was dealing with someone who wasn't my local bank. I wasn't dealing with a face and it was a totally different situation."

Mr Filan told how he and his brother never saw the crash coming. When their business took off the banks approached them for more finance and sites in Sligo. They took out their first development loan in 2003 and soon the business partners and brothers were going “too fast too soon”.

Mr Filan gave up his secure job as a production manager for a company in Sligo and devoted himself full-time to Shafin Developments to try and minimise the situation and try to make it work.

He explained that everyone was caught up in the "whirlwind" of the success and the banks had treated them as VIP customers before the crash.

"You were brought to Heineken Cup finals, one year you got a slab of smoked salmon delivered to your door as a Christmas present and the next year you got a High Court summons," he said.

Shane Filan and his brother Finbarr’s plans to build a property empire ended in bankruptcy back in 2013
Shane Filan and his brother Finbarr’s plans to build a property empire ended in bankruptcy back in 2013

"All of a sudden you weren't dealing with the local people in Sligo. You were going to meetings in Athlone with a stranger you've never met before. Then it was a phone call. The banks completely changed how they opperate."

Now working as a Centra manager, the 47-year-old father-of-three, said the road to recovery was a long one.

"People who are not in this situation do not realise the phenomenal pressure. The fear of the phone call, the fear of the letter box, the fear of the knock on the door. We live in constant fear... and some people didn't make it."

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