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'Accountant was a fraud' - MacSharry

An accountant and a quantity surveyor allegedly sought to make secret profits from a deal involving the €11.5m purchase of a development site by a company which former EU Commissioner Ray MacSharry is chairman of, it has been claimed in court proceedings.

Mr MacSharry described the accountant as "a complete fraud", it was also claimed.

Three businessmen say they suffered losses of more than €2.4m because of allegedly fraudulent claims by accountant and tax specialist Kenneth McMoreland, formerly of Gilroy Gannon accountants, and by quantity surveyor Jack (Jackie) McMahon concerning the purchase by Foresthaze Developments Ltd of the Saehan site at Hazelwood, Sligo, for a development of more than 300 houses. Mr MacSharry is chairman of Foresthaze.

The case, brought by Arthur Grady, Kieran Grady, John Grady and their company, TJ Grady Ltd Brackloon, of Charlestown, Mayo, was admitted to the Commercial Court yesterday.

It is against Mr McMoreland, of Mailcoach Road, Sligo, and others practising as Gilroy Gannon, Stephen Street, Sligo -- Joseph Gannon, Bryan Kilfeather; Alan J Palmer; Cathal O'Donnell; Paul Horan and Sinead McHugh; Jack (Jackie) McMahon, Creggconell, Rosses Point, Sligo; and Foresthaze, with registered offices at Millbrook, Riverside, Sligo.

Foresthaze chairman Mr MacSharry had described Mr McMoreland as "a complete fraud" at a meeting of shareholders of Foresthaze in February 2009, it is claimed.

Mr MacSharry had asked Mr McMoreland to explain himself and he (McMoreland) offered explanations which the plaintiffs said they did not accept.

Investing

It is claimed the Gradys were contacted by Mr McMoreland around April 2006 with a view to investing money in a consortium to purchase and develop the Saehan site.

Mr McMoreland advised the site would be purchased for €11.5m, it was claimed, and he (McMoreland), Jackie McMahon, Ray MacSharry and Mark MacSharry would be the promoters and would hold 25pc of Foresthaze.

It is alleged that, unknown to the plaintiffs, a solicitor on April 11, 2006 entered into a contract with Saehan to purchase the site for €9.85m in trust for Mr McMoreland and not for the consortium or Foresthaze.

It is alleged Foresthaze was incorporated in July 2006 with Mr McMoreland as chief executive, holding 56pc shares; Jackie McMahon as operations manager, having 20pc; Ray MacSharry, as chairman, with 18pc; and Mark McSharry with 6pc. It is alleged the completion date for the purchase was August 31, 2006 and that Mr McMoreland failed to complete purchase by then but the plaintiffs were not informed.

The Gradys are claiming damages against Mr McMoreland and Mr McMahon and also want both those men to indemnify them against any claims made under guarantees in favour of Foresthaze provided by them to Allied Irish Bank.

They also allege negligent misrepresentation and/or negligent mis-statement against other accountants in Gilroy Gannon relating to alleged representations at the firm's offices in September 2006 that the Saehan site would be purchased by Foresthaze for €11.5m.

hnews@herald.ie


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