Monday 19 August 2019

Widow sues her advisers after she lost €400,000 on foreign properties

Ellen O’Mahony leaving the Four Courts yesterday. Photo: Collins Courts
Ellen O’Mahony leaving the Four Courts yesterday. Photo: Collins Courts
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A widow is seeking damages from a property investment firm run by a close ally of former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, claiming she lost more than €400,000 due to being badly advised.

Ellen O'Mahony (66) alleges she was pressured into making foreign property investments, and claims the risks involved were not explained to her.

Her High Court action is being taken against two related firms in Castlebar, Co Mayo - Western Premier Properties Ltd and Morcon Financial Services Ltd - run by Fine Gael councillor Cyril Burke and two other men.

A director or the two firms, Thomas Connolly, is also named as a defendant.

Mrs O'Mahony, a mother-of-five, made investments totalling €413,000 in Dubai and Lisbon after selling her late husband's pub for €1.2m in 2007. But she has alleged all of the money she invested was lost, and that she received no verifiable explanation as to how this happened.

Represented by Bernard Madden SC, instructed by solicitor John Geary, she is now seeking damages for the losses.

She claims the losses are due to alleged misrepresentation, negligence and breach of contract by the defendants in the giving of financial and investment advice, and the selection and management of her investments.

The defendants deny the allegations.

In a statement of claim she said Mr Connolly had advised her on the re-mortgaging of her home in 2004 and convinced her to invest €73,000 in a property at Boddin Strasse, in Berlin.

The investment went well and the court heard she made a profit of €22,900 on the deal.

After receiving the proceeds from the sale of the pub in August 2007, Mrs O'Mahony said Mr Connolly began contacting her and sought to persuade her to invest again.

She claims she informed him that she did not want a long-term investment and that she wanted access to her money within a few years for the education of her children, weddings and house purchases for her family.

Mrs O'Mahony alleged she was subject to "a forceful and aggressive sales pitch" and that "undue pressure" was exerted on her to invest €110,000 in the Empire Heights development in Dubai.

She invested a further €214,000 in another Dubai project in November 2007 and €100,000 in a project in Lisbon.

Mrs O'Mahony alleges she was misled as to the true nature of the investments she was becoming involved in, the level of risk involved, their suitability for her, and the likely returns.

The case continues before Mr Justice Donald Binchy.

Irish Independent

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