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Freeman reveals source of €120k campaign loan

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Joan Freeman. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Joan Freeman. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Joan Freeman. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Presidential candidate Joan Freeman's campaign is being partly funded by a businessman linked to a company that was once accused of operating a pyramid scheme.

Millionaire Des Walsh has given the senator a "commercial loan" worth €120,000 to help her bid for Aras an Uachtarain.

Settlement

Mr Walsh is the executive vice-president of Herbalife Nutrition which has previously been at the centre of a $200m settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in the US.

The settlement meant it avoided the "pyramid scheme" label.

Herbalife, which is valued at €7.3bn, sells weight-loss products using a network of individuals rather than stores. However, it repeatedly faced allegations that it was focused more on signing up new salespeople than selling the product to customers.

Two years ago, redress was paid to 350,000 people who had lost money running the business.

However, as part of the arrangement, Herbalife agreed to overhaul its business practices.

In return, it avoided being charged with operating a pyramid scheme.

Mr Walsh was at the forefront of the company's campaign to reject the accusations.

At one point he told CNBC that the claims were a "gross distortion of the reality".

Ms Freeman said the LA-based businessman had been her friend for 40 years and recently supported her setting up of Solace House, a suicide prevention service, in New York.

"He knows how difficult it is for somebody like me, the ordinary independent, to get funding," she said.

Swipe

"Because he believed in me, he has given me a loan that I will be paying back."

In a swipe at Sinn Fein's Liadh Ni Riada and the three Dragons' Den investors in the race, Ms Freeman said: "I've no buses. I've no helicopters. I arrived here in a small white car."

She has also received a €10,000 loan from Tipperary-born businessman Michael Madden who is chairman of Teneo Capital.


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