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Socialite businessman Breifne O’Brien held in pyramid probe

SELF-confessed pyramid schemer Breifne O'Brien has been arrested by the fraud squad as part of a major ongoing investigation into allegations of deception.

Mr O'Brien, the socialite businessman who admitted to investors in 2008 that he had duped friends, including his brother in law, by up to €16m through a collapsed investment scheme, was arrested yesterday morning under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984.

Mr O'Brien can be detained for a maximum period of 32 hours.

Fraud squad detectives also searched a house in the Monkstown area as part of the investigation into Mr O'Brien's affairs.

Locals last night said that they witnessed Mr O'Brien being arrested at about 10am yesterday.

Located behind a council estate, the small accommodation is a far cry from Mr O'Brien's past luxury.

Mr O'Brien, who is now separated from his wife Fiona Nagle, was first referred to the fraud squad in January 2009 by order of High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

The case was referred after a number of investors sought and secured freezing orders against Mr O'Brien.


The judge, who later compared Mr O'Brien to the money-grabbing villain in the Charles Dicken's novel 'Martin Chuzzlewit', said it was "particularly odious" that Mr O'Brien's victims included not just long-time friends but the elderly pensioner father of one those friends.

In 2009, Judge Kelly granted brothers Louis and Robert Dowley interim orders registering charges against accounts and shares of Mr O'Brien after judgments of some €18m were granted against him.

The orders apply to accounts in National Irish Bank, Goodbody Stockbrokers and to shares in various companies.

Mr O'Brien's listed assets included the family home in Glenageary; an apartment at Vico Road, Dalkey; a house in Barbados; an apartment in Sandyford, Dublin; and a share in apartments under construction in Dubai.

However, the Irish Independent has learned that the investors have struggled to recoup any of their money. Legal sources say they have secured "virtually nothing" as a result of their longstanding civil lawsuits.

Irish Independent