Wednesday 21 February 2018

Jim's due in court over deals with Andrea's ex

The Corrs guitarist is facing financial ruin following disastrous property investments, writes Philip Ryan

Jim Corr
Jim Corr
Jim Corr with his sister Andrea.

IT does not seem that long ago Jim Corr was a Grammy award-winning international musician making millions of euro with his three sisters performing as The Corrs. However, the High Court heard recently that the pop star was facing financial meltdown with outstanding debts totalling €6.5m arising from property investments.

Corr's personal finances were aired during an action taken by Dutch lender ACC Bank, which is trying to recover €778,000 owed by the musician and his business partners.

The bank advanced the guitarist and fellow Louth natives Philip Marks and his father, Liam, or "Billy" as he is known locally, €1.4m to buy a 97-acre development site in Kilkenny in 2004.

Justice Peter Kelly granted the bank permission to question Jim Corr under oath on May 15 after the artist's own legal team said they found it difficult to compile a "full and intelligent picture" of his financial records.

Both Jim Corr and Billy Marks – the former Benburb Meats boss whose company left a €1.6m trail of debt after it collapsed – consented to judgements against them by the bank in February 2011, according to court reports.

During a previous hearing, ACC said it was not able to issue proceedings against Philip Marks because it did not know his whereabouts but believed he was living in Hong Kong. A Sunday Independent investigation has established that the 39-year-old businessman is no longer based in Asia but is now spending his time travelling between Ireland and Malta.

Philip Marks and his father are also listed as "key personnel" on Access Libya's website – an organisation offering trade links with the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

An Access Libya source last week said the organisation had been working in the country under the Gaddafi regime but had struggled to find work following the revolution in 2011.

The group's website states it has "high-level access to decision-makers within Libya" and also names jailed City of London inside trader Christian Littlewood as part of its team.

Littlewood was incarcerated in 2011 for his part in a £1.5m trading scam but is now free after serving half of his three-year sentence.

Philip Marks was a teenage boyfriend of Jim's sister Andrea Corr but went on to develop a business relationship with her brother following the family's rise to success in the music industry.

This relationship has since soured and Corr was previously quoted in the Sunday Times as saying: "I freely admit that I am better at writing songs than choosing business partners."

In recent years, Corr has dedicated his time to exposing what he believes is the truth behind international tragedies such as the 9/11 terror attack in the United States and the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

A personal website the musician used as a platform to write about his conspiracy theories was "down for maintenance" last week.

Land registry documents show Jim Corr and Philip Marks's first foray into property investment was in November 2003 when they bought a building on the South Circular Road, Dublin.

Corr, who at the time was touring the globe with his sisters Andrea, Sharon and Caroline, entered into a business partnership with Philip Marks through an entity called the Markscorr Partnership in 2004.

The following year Markscorp Ltd was established, listing both men as directors and shareholders.

Dundalk accountant Conor Twibill replaced Corr as director of the company in 2006 and held shares in trust for the musician while he was with the company. The company has since been dissolved and Mr Twibill was not available for comment last week.

The last published accounts show the public limited company had assets worth almost €3m in 2008 but the firm's auditors were worried about €500,000 in accumulated losses.

Sources claim Markscorp's assets pale in comparison with the more than €20m held by the Markscorr Partnership during the height of the boom.

A detailed examination of company accounts and land registry documents reveal Philip's father Billy benefitted from a number of Markscorp transactions during the Celtic Tiger years.

The company's 2006 annual accounts states "the father of one of the directors was paid a finder's fee of €216,741 during the year" – the Sunday Independent can confirm that this was paid to Billy Marks.

Sources have said the payment was in relation to London properties in which the company had invested.

According to land registry records, Billy Marks bought a site in Ravensdale, Co Louth, with a £100,000 Irish Nationwide loan in 2001.

This land was then sold to his son and Jim Corr in 2005, with the former meat factory boss making a large profit, according to sources.

Louth County Council planning files show Philip Marks hoped to construct 13 detached houses with 'ranch style timber fences' dividing each home. The development never got the green light and ACC Bank currently has a judgement lodged against the site, according to land registry documents

It was recently reported the lender also has judgements against a luxury apartment Jim Corr owns in Donnybrook, Dublin, and on properties he owns in Louth and Kildare.

According to registry of deeds records, Philip Marks and his father also bought a Kilkenny development site in 2001 not far from the plot which they bought with Jim Corr three years later.

Billy Marks first came to the public's attention in the mid-Eighties when his firm, Benburb Meats, collapsed resulting in the loss of more than 200 jobs and leaving a £1.6m debt in its wake.

According to reports, Billy Marks clashed with the firm's liquidators who claimed he had been running the company for a year while knowing it to be insolvent – a charge he vehemently denied.

The demise of his meat processing factory left a number of farmers out of pocket and led to a lot of animosity towards Marks from cattle breeders.

A court heard in 1989 how a group of disgruntled farmers kidnapped Billy Marks's horse trainer, Homer Scott, and had demanded a ransom for his safe return. During the ordeal, Billy Marks's home in Dundalk was under armed protection, according to newspaper reports.

The businessman was restricted from being a director of a company for five years after a popular Temple Bar restaurant he ran was liquidated in 1995, leaving a £100,000 Revenue bill.

The company boss resurfaced less than two years later in South Africa where he was running a meat import business.

Locals in Philip Marks's hometown of Blackrock in Dundalk claimed to have seen the entrepreneur driving his black Mercedes Compressor through the village in recent weeks.

The globetrotting company director's Irish mobile phone number was also ringing but he was not answering either calls or text messages.

When the Sunday Independent called to his family home in the seaside town, the fire was lit and the television was switched on in the living room.

But soon after we rang the doorbell, the curtains were drawn in all rooms.

Meanwhile, Jim Corr is said to have spent "a small fortune" hiring accountants and advisers who are actively working with his lender and it was reported that he has placed most of his properties on the market.

The musician did not respond to requests for comment.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News