Thursday 14 December 2017

Breifne is broke -- and taxi sell-off won't raise a cent

Alleged society fraudster's debt-laden cab firm is on the market -- but sheriff can't find buyer


THE taxi firm once owned by Breifne O'Brien is saddled with debt and unlikely to raise a cent for investors who were duped out of millions by the alleged society fraudster.

Blackrock Cabs, owned by Mr O'Brien and his wife Fiona Nagle, is expected to be put into liquidation following a creditors' meeting to be held in Dublin this week, after attempts to sell it failed.

Potential buyers, who had offered up to €50,000 for the business, were said by sources to have been put off by the firm's substantial debts -- most of which is owed to Mr O'Brien himself.

Mr O'Brien claims he lent €300,000 of his own money to the taxi business. His mother-in law, who was also briefly a director of the business, is owed €20,000. There are also outstanding debts to banks and to suppliers.

Mr O'Brien and his wife resigned as directors of the taxi firm last year, after he was exposed as the operator of an alleged pyramid scheme.

He has admitted luring "suckers" in to invest in his schemes during the boom, but he used the proceeds to fund his own business ventures and to prop up his extravagant personal lifestyle.

The scam was described in court as an elaborate confidence trick, and Mr O'Brien was forced to come clean after the credit crunch caused investors to seek their money back. After his lifestyle was exposed as a sham, the couple relied on Blackrock Cabs as their main source of cash. Their other businesses, including shops and a dry cleaners, were dissolved.

Eleven former friends, including his brother-in-law, are suing Mr O'Brien for €18m, including two Tipperary brothers owed €3m from the sale of Blackrock Cabs.

Louis and Robert Dowley, former college friends of O'Brien, secured a High Court judgment against him last year. The Dublin County Sheriff has raised some €200,000 from the sale of stocks and shares and another €37,000 from the sale of Mr O'Brien's Aston Martin.

The sheriff has been trying to sell the taxi firm without success, and could find no takers because of the debt burdening the company.

Advisers have said the company is effectively insolvent and have suggested liquidating it. Mr O'Brien, who is under investigation by the fraud squad, and his wife, have both resigned as directors of the taxi business since his pyramid scheme was exposed.

Among those who put in a bid for the taxi firm was Fiona Nagle, although she later withdrew her offer. She has issued proceedings against her husband in the High Court, three years after they married in a lavish ceremony in Cork.

She is now the sole occupant of the house, Invergarry, on Silchester Road in Glenageary, while her husband gave an address in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny -- though he is believed to be living in Dublin.

Although Breifne O'Brien is the taxi firm's largest creditor, it is unlikely he will attend the meeting in the Harcourt Hotel in Dublin's Harcourt Street on September 8.

Sunday Independent

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