Friday 27 April 2018

McNamara walks free of his €1bn debts

MAEVE SHEEHAN

THE bust developer, Bernard McNamara, walked free from his massive debts yesterday after being discharged from bankruptcy in the UK.

McNamara, who owed an estimated €1bn, followed an exodus of Irish developers to avail of the UK's speedier bankruptcy laws. Mr McNamara was among Nama's most indebted developers. The State "bad bank" put his construction firm, Michael McNamara and Company, into receivership in November 2010.

McNamara was declared bankrupt in November 2012, two years after he moved to London. The UK insolvency register confirmed yesterday that Michael Bernard McNamara, who described himself as a self-employed property consultant, had been discharged from his debts.

According to his bankruptcy file, which was released earlier this summer, he was still earning huge sums when he first moved to London in 2010 to escape debts of €1bn.

He earned €138,000 in consultancy fees a year, paid £800 (€945) a month to lease a car, and paid the €6,000-a-month rent on a three-bedroom Chiswick property two years in advance.

He paid £1,000 to Fulham Football Club. He also had premium seats in Croke Park and the Aviva Stadium.

By the time he went bankrupt last year, McNamara said he had just £800 in cash and a £8,000 in his bank account.

Mr McNamara tried to block the release of the bankruptcy documents detailing his income and expenditure to a newspaper during the summer. But a court ruled that they should be released to the press.

One of the biggest developers of the boom, McNamara, a former Fianna Fail councilllor, owned hotels and office complexes across the country and lived in a mansion in Dublin 4.

The property developer from Clare turned the building firm founded by his father into one of the biggest in Ireland, but it was one of the first to fall during the property crash.

In January 2010, Mr McNamara told RTE that his "head was on a plate. Everything I have had since I was a young fella is being put on the line. I'm not running anywhere. I'll stand here and face whatever music there is."

Months later, the Dublin city sheriff seized art works and other valuables from his Ailesbury Road home to help pay debts. At the time, he was the highest profile former tycoon to be targeted by bailiffs.

Mr McNamara is one of a number of Irish business people to have had their debts written off by way of a UK bankrupcy.

Other high-profile debtors who took the UK route include fellow developers, Ray Grehan, Paddy Shovlin and John Fleming.

Ivan Yates, the broadcaster and former Fine Gael minister, and Shane Filan, the Westlife singer, have also declared bankruptcy in the UK.

Rogue developer Tom McFeely tried to avail of the UK's less stringent bankruptcy laws but failed. The man who built the death trap apartment complex, Priory Hall, was eventually declared a bankrupt in Ireland.

Sunday Independent

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

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News