Tycoon 'faces life on €11,000 state pension'
BUSINESSMAN Brendan Murtagh yesterday lost a court bid to retain funds worth up to €1.2m towards "living expenses" over a case in which investors are pursuing a €28m debt.
Commercial Court head, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, said Mr Murtagh (64), purchaser of Smart Telecom, once had an estimated net worth of €271m but now has liabilities of €353m including "colossal" sums owed to Anglo Irish Bank.
Mr Murtagh would have to come to terms with the fact he was no longer very wealthy, may have to reduce his living standards accordingly and consider whether he needed two houses that had been transferred into his wife's name, the judge said.
He found it hard to see how Mr Murtagh would need to keep share and pension-fund assets, valued between €700,000 and €1.2m, for "reasonable" living expenses.
He could only imagine the sense of injustice investors would have if Mr Murtagh was allowed that when they were left "high and dry" with a €28m debt.
This debt was only part of Mr Murtagh's "sorry tale" as total judgment orders of more than €60m had been obtained, the judge said.
Earlier, Gary McCarthy, for Mr Murtagh, said his client was very wealthy some years ago but his only remaining assets were his pension fund and some shares.
He would receive the state pension at age 66, of some €11,000 a year, but would lose his €70,000 salary as non-executive director of Kingspan plc when he resigned it next month. This was "not a lifestyle issue" but to put food on the table and his client's ability to look after himself at the age of 64, Mr McCarthy said.
Mr Murtagh had made great efforts to deal with the issues raised by the investors and the transfer of properties into his wife's name occurred before the proceedings.
After hearing submissions, the judge agreed with Eileen Barrington, for the investors, that Mr Murtagh had failed to produce adequate information to defeat the investors' application for charging orders over various shareholdings and to appoint a receiver over his pension fund.
The total value of the shares and pension fund was said to be between €700,000 and €1.2m and the real effect of Mr Murtagh's application would be to prevent the investors getting the fruit of charging orders which were "a drop in the ocean" of their overall claim, he said.
The judge confirmed the charging orders, including orders over shares in Kingspan plc, and also appointed George Maloney as receiver over the Brendan Murtagh Approved Retirement Fund, which has a value of up to €831,000. He told Mr McCarthy he could make a fresh application to allow Mr Murtagh certain sums in living expenses if additional information was produced to correct "glaring gaps" in what had been provided.
He also required information about the value of two properties -- Mr Murtagh's family home at Dunheeda, Kingscourt, Co Cavan and a mews at Raglan Lane, Dublin 4 -- that were transferred in to the name of Mr Murtagh's wife, Martha.
The judge was dealing with proceedings by Loparco SA which last January secured a €28.1m judgment order -- arising from unpaid loans linked to Polish property deals -- against Mr Murtagh; Greg Coughlan, Fastnet, Ardbrack, Kinsale, Co Cork; and Brian Madden, Well Road, Douglas, Cork.