Friday 15 December 2017

Fraudster fed on the goodwill of old friends

The victims

Businessman Breifne O'Brien at court yesterday
Businessman Breifne O'Brien at court yesterday
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

BREIFNE O'Brien's fraudulent Ponzi scheme, which centred on bogus property deals, fed on the goodwill of some of his oldest and trusted friends.

They included Evan Newell, O'Brien's friend and former business mentor who was one of the last investors to get sucked into his investment scheme.

At the height of the property boom, Mr Newell invested in what he thought was an option to buy a shopping centre in Hamburg.

After a lengthy series of court battles to halt his trial, O'Brien yesterday admitted stealing €2.1m from Evan Newell between June 8 and 15, 2007 at National Irish Bank, Stillorgan, Co Dublin.


Daniel Maher, also known as Don, had known Breifne O'Brien for 25 years when their friendship, along with his money, evaporated.

Weeks before Mr O'Brien's scheme collapsed, he gave a "half bar" – €500,000 – to O'Brien for a purported property deal in Paris.

Mr Maher was due to get a 10pc return within two months for the investment.

But there was no Paris option.

Louis and Robert Dowley also invested with O'Brien.

Ten years ago Louis Dowley was indebted to O'Brien for cutting him in on what would be his (Dowley's) maiden deal.

This was when O'Brien offered him the opportunity to "buy out" a co-investor on a deal to secure an option on a shopping centre in the UK.

A grateful Dowley was told his lucky break came about because the co-investor had an alleged conflict of interest.

Despite some troubles with the maiden deal – the profits on which were delayed – Louis Dowley and his brother Robert continued to invest in separate deals with O'Brien.

They paid out handsomely to the tax man in relation to their purported profits, but their money had never been used for a legitimate deal.

Yesterday, O'Brien admitted stealing some €4m from Louis Dowley.

Other victims in the sample counts are Martin O'Brien and Pat Doyle.

Irish Independent

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