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Monday 20 May 2019

Bank charges Yates €4,000 interest each week on his debts

Home and future income also at risk

Ivan Yates leaving the creditors' meeting at the Pearse Hotel, Dublin,
Mr Yates and his wife, Deirdre
a Celtic Bookmakers shop in Harold's Cross, Dublin
the family home in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford

Donal O’Donovan

FORMER minister Ivan Yates last night admitted his financial situation is "impossible" as AIB piles an extra €4,000- a-week interest on to his massive personal debt.

The Newstalk presenter faces losing all his assets, and a large chunk of income for the next 10 years, as he attempts to settle debts of €3.6m.

After facing creditors who will get nothing after his Celtic Bookmakers chain was put into liquidation, he admitted the outlook was "exceptionally bleak".

The liquidation does not end the debt crisis for Mr Yates because he personally guaranteed the company's debts.

The bank has now given the former agriculture minister until May 13 to repay the debts.

Mr Yates, a father of four, is married to Deirdre, who was the original driving force behind the business, founded in 1987 while Mr Yates was still a TD.

Yesterday, he said he and his wife only took a salary of €25,992 each from Celtic Bookmakers. He said they took no money out of the business after 2008 in a bid to control costs.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, he revealed for the first time that his financial situation continued to deteriorate since his business collapsed last year. "The creditors' meeting is just another staging post on a pretty miserable route," he said.

The debt owed to AIB has continued to rise, even after the bank took control of Celtic Bookmakers in January 2011.

Mr Yates is disputing the interest charges -- he claims the most he owes the bank is €3.4m.

Now he faces a choice between bankruptcy and signing his future earnings over to the bank, after AIB called in the loan this week.

"I don't have €3.6m. The bank is looking for 10 years of future earnings as well as all of my assets," he said.

Assets

Mr Yates said his situation was complicated because he did not have outright ownership of his most valuable assets -- including the family farm and house outside Enniscorthy in Co Wexford, valued at up to €2m.

Any attempt to sell the farm is complicated by the fact that it is home to Mr Yates's 80-year-old mother, who has a legal lifetime right to residence on the property and half the farmland.

"I have been trying to negotiate with the bank but to date I have found it impossible," he told the Irish Independent.

Mr Yates owed €6m to the state-owned bank when his business collapsed, and since then €2.5m has been repaid. A further €1.6m is owed to smaller "unsecured creditors."

The bank debt was reduced after a receiver put in by the bank sold 31 out of Celtic Bookmakers' 47 shops, Mr Yates said.

The bank is well incentivised to pursue Mr Yates. Unlike many business owners, he has always had alternative sources of income. He has a €74,800-per-year pension from his time in politics and earns an undisclosed amount as a presenter on Newstalk and as a columnist for the 'Irish Examiner'.

That income could now be up for grabs, as the bank could go to court and get an attachment order, Mr Yates confirmed.

If it happens, it means a judge will decide on a reasonable level of personal income for the Yates family -- and send the rest to the bank until the debt is paid off.

Mr Yates is already said to be considering a move to the UK. An Irish person who sets up home in the UK can be cleared of their debts via a UK bankruptcy in less than two years, compared to 12 years at home.

Meanwhile, smaller creditors were left empty-handed after yesterday's meeting. The half-dozen who turned up were told they would get nothing, because AIB has first claim.

After the bank, the biggest debt is owed to the Department of Social Protection.

It is owed a €330,000 refund for redundancy payments it made to Celtic Bookmakers' staff after the company collapsed.

Mr Yates said his sympathy now was with the creditors.

Irish Independent

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