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Friday 23 March 2018

Hurling star’s €1.7m business empire in danger of collapse

'Missing money' at centre of big losses in firm

DJ Carey with partner Sarah Newman, a star of RTE's 'Dragons' Den'
DJ Carey with partner Sarah Newman, a star of RTE's 'Dragons' Den'
The Kilkenny hurling legend in action during the 1998 Leinster final
DJ's sister Catriona, who is a former director of his firms and played hockey for Ireland

Donal O'Donovan

The cleaning business owned by hurling legend DJ Carey and his TV star partner Sarah Newman is facing collapse with debts of around €1.7m.

Creditors' meetings have been called for three of the star's companies, which supply cleaning and sanitation products to pubs and businesses.

It comes after the business had to write off €200,000 of "unauthorised transactions" which were uncovered by auditors.

The most recent accounts filed show that the business has been running at a loss since 2006.

The missing money was part of the reason the businesses racked up combined losses of close to €2m by 2009.

In that year the company hired an experienced accountant as a financial controller and demanded a review of how accounts were kept after discovering a series of unexplained and "unauthorised transactions". At the time, Mr Carey and Sarah Newman vowed to "pursue the recovery of this expenditure in full".

The "unauthorised" transactions were first discovered by auditors Carey & Associates in 2008, but the full scale of the problem was only revealed a year later by new auditors Brophy Gillespie.

The auditors said they "were unable to obtain sufficient and appropriate explanations and evidence from a former employee" about the unexplained transactions.

Mr Carey and Sarah Newman, the TV business personality and star of RTE's 'Dragons' Den', are listed as the companies' main directors.

Mr Carey's sister Catriona, a former international hockey player, was also a director of DJ Carey Enterprises between August 2001 and March 2009. She left the company and has since started her own cleaning venture, also in Gowran, Co Kilkenny.

Further severe losses are expected in the 2010 financial accounts. It is understood that despite calling a creditors' meeting, Mr Carey has already moved to recover some value from the company and sold most of the company's operations to Tuam-based company Western Hygiene last Friday.

It is common practice for a company in trouble to sell off the best parts of the business to raise cash to pay off debts. The phones are now being answered under the name of Western Hygiene. A spokesperson for Western Hygiene said it would comment on the takeover of the business in the coming weeks.

Creditors' meetings for the three companies involved in the Mr Carey's business -- DJ Carey Enterprises, Alton and Dublin Janitorial Centre have been scheduled for February 18 at the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin. Creditors' meetings are held to alert suppliers and lenders that companies face financial difficulties.

The hurling star pumped more than €600,000 of his own money into the company over the last number of years in an effort to keep the business afloat. Because Mr Carey has lent this money in loans to the company, he will be the largest creditor when a statement of affairs is presented at the meeting next week.

Ulster Bank is owed around €170,000, a portion of this is covered by a personal guarantee from Mr Carey.

Irish Independent

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