Friday 19 January 2018

Bank's Boucher Boy goes after O'Donnells

BoI's CEO seeks bankruptcy of solicitor who owes €71m

BROKE: Brian and Mary Patricia O'Donnell
BROKE: Brian and Mary Patricia O'Donnell
Gorse Hill, their mansion in Killiney, Dublin


BANK of Ireland CEO Richie Boucher has personally signed off a petition to have high-flying solicitor Brian O'Donnell and his wife, Mary Pat, declared bankrupt in Ireland.

Court documents seen by the Sunday Independent show that the application, which is due to come before the High Court at 11 o'clock tomorrow morning, has been grounded on an affidavit sworn by the Bank of Ireland boss.

While there is no suggestion that Mr Boucher holds any personal antipathy towards the O'Donnells, friends of the couple say they find it "quite extraordinary" that the CEO of the bank, which is pursuing them for the recovery of a €71.575m debt, would undertake to sign off on the bank's petition for bankruptcy, rather than delegate the task to one of his subordinates.

"It's obviously something he's entitled to do, but Brian and Mary Pat can't help but feel that the bank is out to get them all the way from the boardroom down," one close friend of the couple said.

While a spokesman for Bank of Ireland chose not to respond to that accusation, this newspaper understands that petitions for bankruptcy require the signature of two of the bank's executive directors.

As it stands, Bank of Ireland's only executive directors are Mr Boucher and its chief financial officer, Andrew Keating. Mr Keating acted as co-signatory to the O'Donnell petition.

In his affidavit sworn on behalf of Bank of Ireland on June 7 last, Mr Boucher notes the decision by the High Court on December 12 last to grant judgment for €71,575,991 against Mr and Mrs O'Donnell. The document shows that interest of eight per cent per annum has been accruing on the massive debt from that date.

The Bank of Ireland chief's affidavit identifies four properties in Dublin and a pledge on shares in Greystoke, a Luxembourg-registered company controlled by the O'Donnells, as providing security for the €71.5m owed to the bank.

Estimating the value of the charges it holds over 84 Ailesbury Road, 61 and 62 Merrion Square, 61/62 Fitzwilliam Lane and the Greystoke shares, Mr Boucher puts the figure at €21.7m -- a shortfall of some €50m on the total amount the bank is seeking to be repaid.

In a separate affidavit sworn on May 25, 2012, the Bank of Ireland CEO details the seizure on April 6 last by the Galway county sheriff of a 1990 Daimler limousine and a 1992 Morgan sports car owned by Brian O'Donnell from his mansion in Oughterard, Co Galway. In seizing the two cars, the sheriff acted on foot of the €71.5m judgment granted to Bank of Ireland in the High Court last December.

In the May 25 petition, Mr Boucher goes on to note efforts by the O'Donnells to have themselves adjudged bankrupt in the UK courts on the basis that it is their centre of main interests.

Notwithstanding that claim -- which Bank of Ireland is currently challenging in the High Court in London -- Mr Boucher insists that Mr O'Donnell's centre of main interests is here in Ireland, saying: "The debtor is situated in the State (Ireland) because the said debtor is domiciled, ordinarily resides and has a dwelling house within the State."

The outcome of the dispute between the O'Donnells and the bank over their residency could prove crucial in determining both their future and the amount of money their creditors -- of which the Bank of Ireland is only one -- might expect to recover.

Should the courts in London determine that Mr and Mrs O'Donnell's centre of main interest is in the UK and clear the way for them to declare bankruptcy there, then the couple could have a clean bill of financial health in just 12 months.

Failing that, however, an adjudication of bankruptcy here could see them wait for up to 12 years -- or three years, should they be declared bankrupt following the introduction of the Government's long-awaited personal-insolvency legislation.

Sunday Independent

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