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Creditors of shamed tycoon considering legal action

CREDITORS who are owed millions of euro by rogue investor Breifne O'Brien are contemplating legal action to find out what the garda fraud squad knows about his finances.

The creditors, who include one-time friends of the shamed tycoon, discussed the move at a meeting last week, the latest attempt to find out whether he has any assets they don't know about.

Most have yet to see a penny of the millions they are owed by O'Brien and are still trying to get their money back. They are considering applying to the High Court seeking permission to access financial records the fraud squad has assembled in unravelling his labyrinthine business dealings.

Gardai have identified hundreds of bank accounts in several countries linked to O'Brien, according to sources. His assets have been frozen by the courts but money continues to be transferred between his bank accounts, some of it thought to be rent from his multiple properties. A garda source said investigators are still trying to unravel the bank accounts and "international inquiries" are under way.

The creditors' action follows criticism of the apparently slow progress of the fraud inquiry. O'Brien has yet to be formally questioned by detectives more than two years since he first confessed to duping his friends out of millions in a pyramid investment scam. He allegedly called them "suckers" who were easy to pull in during the boom.

O'Brien's business interests included a taxi firm, launderettes and several stocks and shares, but he drew on his friends to fund his high-level investment schemes.

His taxi business has been sold along with art works, an Aston Martin car, stocks and shares but these have raised little more than €200,000 for the creditors.

Anglo Irish Bank has secured a charge over his properties in Dublin, the UK and on the Continent.

Those who sued O'Brien include several former friends; Evan Newell, a businessman in Rathgar, Dublin, is owed €4.4m; David Bell, a former High Court taxing master and his son, who are owed €1.1m; Daniel Maher in Foxrock, is owed €450,000; Robert Dennison is owed €312,000; and Barty O'Brien, who is owed €685,000.

O'Brien has also contacted some of his friends, promising to repay the money which he referred to as "borrowings".

Sunday Independent