VICTIMS of self-confessed pyramid schemer Breifne O'Brien have launched a lawsuit to get ownership of the socialite's exclusive Caribbean villa.
The Irish Independent has learnt that the investors are trying to obtain ownership of a villa located in the prestigious Sandy Lane resort in Barbados to try and recoup some of their multi-million euro losses.
But the proceedings are complicated by the fact that Mr O'Brien's estranged wife, former PR executive Fiona Nagle, has claimed ownership of half of the shareholding in the villa.
Sandy Lane, a haven of the rich and famous, is owned by Irish billionaires JP McManus, Dermot Desmond and John Magnier.
Yesterday Mr O'Brien was released without charge after he was arrested and detained by fraud squad detectives on Thursday, as part of a major investigation into allegations of deception.
Investors, who include some of Mr O'Brien's closest friends and his brother-in-law Bernard Lambilliotte, have struggled since the controversy first broke in December 2008 to have court judgments in excess of €18m satisfied.
Given that the villa in Sandy Lane is in both Mr O'Brien's and his wife's names, the investors may seek to obtain a court order to sell the property to extract Mr O'Brien's half share. Alternatively they may seek orders requiring the couple to prove how the property was funded -- in other words, to ascertain whether Mr O'Brien solely funded the purchase.
The case was referred by Mr Justice Peter Kelly after a number of investors sought and secured freezing orders against Mr O'Brien.
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; the villa in Barbados; an apartment in Sandyford, Dublin; and a share in apartments then under construction in Dubai.
But it is understood that there is not sufficient value in his portfolio to satisfy the claims of banks or any other creditors.
Mr O'Brien was released from custody early yesterday after being held at Irishtown garda station for questioning. Searches were carried out at a house in the Monkstown area of south Dublin.
Gardai said last night that a file would be sent by early August to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who would then determine if criminal charges should be brought against Mr O'Brien.