Sunday 21 January 2018

Fahey partners focus of probe by Nationwide

Galway TD is part-owner of Brussels property


THE Dail's biggest property owner is involved in a partnership with the two men at the centre of a multi-million Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) loan inquiry.

Fianna Fail TD Frank Fahey owns apartments in the centre of Brussels in partnership with suspended INBS manager Noel Harrington, and Limerick developer Ger Clohessy.

According to documents, obtained by the Sunday Independent from the Belgian Land Registry, the three men are partners in a number of properties in Brussels.

Mr Clohessy is a large Limerick property developer whose name is linked to an internal INBS investigation into the handling of accounts at its Limerick branch. Mr Harrington is the manager of the INBS on Cruises Street in Limerick city.

Mr Harrington and Mr Clohessy own five apartments in Brussels in a three-way split with Mr Fahey, a Galway TD.

Mr Harrington was placed on paid leave by INBS on January 26 and was told an investigation was under way into his own borrowings and lending agreements that the INBS had with Mr Clohessy.

Mr Harrington subsequently took an unsuccessful High Court against INBS in an attempt to put a stop to the internal investigation and to get him restored to his position as manager.

During the court case it emerged that INBS was interested in looking at accounts related to Mr Clohessy, who is alleged to owe INBS €36m.

Mr Harrington claimed in his High Court action that INBS were engaged in a "scapegoating exercise" and that the accounts were handled "at a much higher level than me" from the INBS head office in Dublin.

When contacted by the Sunday Independent, Irish Nationwide Building Society refused to comment on the investigation.

Mr Fahey, Mr Clohessy and Mr Harrington jointly bought a property in Brussels in 2005. The property at 12 Rue Paul Emile Janson was bought with a loan of over half a million euro from Dexia Bank, a large Belgian Bank.

The property was bought as a house and then developed into five apartments. These apartments are five of the 15 apartments that Mr Fahey owns in partnership with others in Brussels.

Mr Fahey owns property in Brussels, Portugal, Dubai, Boston and France, as well as all around Ireland.

He has property in Galway, Athlone, Limerick, Dublin, Castlerea and, of course, his own home town of Gort. Mr Fahey's wife is also heavily involved in the property business. Ethelle Fahey is on the board of directors of Sage Construction Limited and BEF Developments Limited, which are both involved in construction, while Kinnicha Grove Management Company Limited is a property management company.

Yesterday, Mr Fahey declined to comment on his involvement with both Mr Clohessy and Mr Harrington.

Mr Fahey told the Dail's Finance Committee last Monday that he had declared all his property interests in his 'Declaration of Interests' and he had nothing further to add to those comments.

"With regard to declarations of interest, I confirm that I do not own any bank shares and that my shareholding in property has been declared in my declaration of interests and will not be of any interest to Nama," he said.

But the Labour Party spokesperson for finance, Joan Burton, said that given the seriousness of the issue at hand, that members of the Oireachtas should make a full declaration of their interests and the interests of all related parties.

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