Monday 11 December 2017

Wife of McFeely’s former business partner wins living expenses of €9,000 a month

Christine Connolly
Christine Connolly

THE wife of the former business partner of Priory Hall builder Tom McFeely has secured court orders allowing the family living expenses of €9,000 a month.

State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) has claimed it is owed €1m in frozen assets belonging to Christine Connolly and her husband, discharged bankrupt developer Larry O'Mahony.

Ms Connolly, who claims she owns the monies from which the expenses are being paid, sought €10,000 a month in total living expenses, including €3,000-€3,500 monthly for renting a four bedroom home in Dublin 4 and €1,644 in school fees and extra-curricular expenses for her three children. It also included about €820 to cover monthly car expenses and €165 for golf subscription.

The amount sought was opposed by IBRC whose lawyer argued that, while Ms Connolly and her husband Mr O'Mahony had "lived a Celtic Tiger lifestyle" when they had wealth, they did not have that any more and should adjust accordingly.

IBRC accepted the relevant law provides for payment of living expenses to fund the lifestyle to which the relevant person was reasonably accustomed, Cian Ferriter SC said.  However, IBRC was conscious, if its claim to the frozen monies was upheld, the expenses were being funded by the Irish taxpayer, he said.

Martin Hayden SC, for Ms Connolly,  said the expenses sought were reasonable and his client had reduced the family outgoings.

IBRC had previously agreed to expenses of some €6,500 a month. Ms Connolly wanted an additional sum of €3,750 monthly to cover costs including renting a property for her family who must leave their home on Dublin's Shrewsbury Road shortly as it had been  repossessed by NAMA and sold, Mr Hayden said.

The debt on Shrewsbury Road far exceeded what it was sold for and a High Court postponement of the July repossession order to allow them find alternative accommodation would expire on December 1, he added.

Mr Justice George Birmingham said Ms Connolly had last June sought living expenses of €8,176 monthly - not including any rent as the family were then still living in Shrewsbury Road -  and that sum was reduced, by agreement of both sides, to €6,500.

Ms Connolly was now seeking an additional sum of €3,750 a month to rent one of two properties which she considered appropriate. Both properties - at Upper Leeson Street and Serpentine Avenue, Ballsbridge, looked "attractive and desirable", the judge said.

It was accepted there would have to be some topping up of the €6,500 figure to meet rental costs, and there should be some regard to the family's previous lifestyle, they were not required "to live in penury" and their children should continue in their local schools, he said.

In the circumstances, he considered the appropriate figure for monthly expenses was €9,000.

The judge also noted the sides had agreed that a sum of about €67,000 should be paid out to meet some legal costs incurred by Ms Connolly in the proceedings to date.

The application arose in an action brought by IBRC against Portal Properties LLC, Ms Connolly and Ms O'Mahony arising from a loan for some €2.5m allegedly advanced to Portal from 2006 by Irish Nationwide Building Society. INBS, which has since been taken over by IBRC, have the money to buy a luxury property at Pinheiros Altos, Almancil, Portugal.

It is alleged the couple effectively controlled Portal and allegedly induced INBS to enter into a loan agreement on foot of fraudulent and/or negligent misrepresentations.

IBRC claims part of the security for the €2.5m loan was an undertaking related to sale proceeds of the luxury property, plus an alleged undertaking by Ms Connolly over sale proceeds of an adjoining property owned by Ms Connolly.

Both properties have been sold and the proceeds are frozen pending the court action.

The net sale proceeds of the luxury property were about €785,000 while those of the adjoining property, which Ms Connolly claims she bought for €420,000 with her own money, are some €315,000.

Some €39,000 living expenses paid to Ms Connolly since June have been deducted from the €315,000 proceeds, leaving about €276,000 in that account. The further expenses will be taken from that account.

The couple have denied the claims.

In her defence, Ms Connolly claims Mr O'Mahony decided to buy the luxury property as a holiday home for his family from a previous marriage.

By Tm Healy

Online Editors

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