Friday 19 January 2018

‘I could lose my house over tax cheat Mick Wallace’ says painter owed €28k by TD’s firm

Ioan Hotca outside his home
Ioan Hotca outside his home
Mick Wallace
The letter to Mr Hotca from M & J Wallace Ltd

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

A PAINTER who is owed tens of thousands of euro by tax-cheat TD Mick Wallace's company faces losing his home as he has no money to pay his mortgage arrears.

Father-of-one Ioan Hotca, who worked as a subcontractor for M&J Wallace Ltd, has said he faces being thrown out on the street after the company owned by the former developer failed to pay an €80,000 bill.

He is one of several contractors who are owed cash by M&J Wallace Ltd and his story starkly illustrates the human cost of the collapse of the TD's building empire.

The revelation comes as it emerged that Mr Wallace has retained ownership of an upmarket apartment in Italy.

Documents obtained by the Irish Independent show how Mr Wallace transferred ownership of a vineyard in Piedmont to his brother Joseph in 2009 to settle a debt -- but held on to an apartment in nearby Turin.

Mr Hotca, a painter and tiler, told the Irish Independent that he hired staff and bought materials to work on developments in Dublin and on the Wexford Youths football ground, Ferrycarrig Park, in 2007 and 2008, but is still chasing payment.

Mr Wallace doubled the wages that he and his son Sasha took out of the business around the same time.

Mr Hotca claimed that he slashed his invoice from €80,000 to €40,000 as he was "desperate" for cash to pay his staff and to cover his bills and mortgage arrears.

He later entered an agreement with Mr Wallace, which involved him being paid instalments of €500 a month. However, although a number of payments were made, he is still owed €28,000.

Romanian-born Mr Hotca, who has lived in Ireland since 1997, said he had contacted Mr Wallace numerous times to come to an agreement about paying off the debt.

In the meantime, he has had his work van repossessed and owes €9,300 in mortgage arrears. He has agreed with the paint and tile store to carry out work for it as he was unable to pay for the materials used on the job for M&J Wallace Ltd.

After the monthly payments stopped, he went to the Dublin office of M&J Wallace Ltd and demanded a letter to confirm how much he was still owed.

The letter, dated December 2010, stated: "I can confirm that you are owed €28,000 and we are unable to pay as we have sustained massive losses and have ran (sic) out of cash."

Desperate

Mr Hotca said he even "begged" for a job in one of the TD's restaurants but claims that this request was rebuffed.

At one stage he said he also asked Mr Wallace to give him some machinery to cover the debt.

"I asked him about a digger that I could sell for the money because I knew he had one at Wexford Youths. He wouldn't give it to me. He said he needed it himself.He wasn't willing to give me anything," Mr Hotca said.

In the Dail last week, Mr Wallace said he would put half his salary towards paying his €2.1m tax bill. But Mr Hotca said: "Paying back Revenue is not going to bail out my home."

Mick Wallace, who is a director of M&J Wallace Ltd, did not respond to a series of questions submitted to him about this matter last night. In his Dail statement this week he admitted: "A number of subcontractors were left being owed money."

Irish Independent

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