Thursday 22 February 2018

Former owners of famous restaurant 'spent €900k on living expenses from property sales but nothing on €20m loans'

William and Sheila Moran
William and Sheila Moran

Tim Healy

A COUPLE who owned one of the country's most famous pub-restaurants have spent €900,000 on living expenses from the proceeds of property sales - and haven't used any of it to pay off a debt to a bank of nearly €20m, a court heard.

William and Sheila Moran, who owned Moran's On the Weir in Kilcogan, Galway must answer a number of questions about their expenditure within the next two weeks as part of AIB's bid to recover the €20m, Mr Justice John Hedigan said in the Commercial Court.

AIB obtained judgment against them in 2012 arising out of default on loans for property investment.

But, despite selling off unencumbered property assets since then, including the Kilcogan pub, for a total of €2.8m,  none of it has been

 used to reduce their debt to AIB, it is claimed.

Bernard Caroll, a manager in of AIB's financial solutions group, says in an affidavit, the €2.8m came from the sale of the pub (for €1.5m), an apartment (for €943,000) and the sale of loan rights (€370,000) in a Polish company called Grudnia.

Some of it was used to pay the Revenue Commissioners (€415,000) and the Morans' professional advisors (€211,000), leaving around €2.26m available to them.

The bank has learned that between November 2011 and December 2014, some €0.9m, was withdrawn from their Bank of Ireland account, representing an average monthly expenditure of €24,000 per month.

Of this, around €250,000 was paid for "future educational expenses and living expenses" of three of their children including €60,000 to 18-year-old Brian Moran while 14-year-old William Moran jun received two payments totalling €65,000 in January and February 2012, Mr Carroll says.

There were also further transactions relating to the Polish company and a Latvian company called Invest Agra SIA.

The Morans were last year in court for cross-examination by AIB as to their assets when a judge ordered their advisors to co-operate with the bank in relation to providing information about their assets and transactions relating to those assets.

However, they have continued to fail to answer questions about those transactions and their living expenses, Ciaran Lewis BL, for AIB, said.

A solicitor for the couple, who said Mr Moran is seriously ill and his wife was a housewife who had no involvement in his financial affairs, said the questions posed by AIB had been answered.

Mr Justice Hedigan said from his reading of Mr Carroll's affidavit, they had not been answered satisfactorily.  It was not sufficient to just say money had been spent without vouching for how it had been spent, he said.

He put the matter back for a fortnight and "in the interim, the questions are to be answered in detail", he said.

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