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File photo of Thomas McFeely arriving at the High Court in 2011. Leon Farrell/
Priory Hall

Thomas McFeely 'fails to give address and disclose assets' in bankruptcy proceedings

The High Court has heard that the developer did not provide his place of residence or disclose his interest in “significant assets”.

PRIORY HALL DEVELOPER Thomas McFeely did not provide “simple information” such as his place of residence or disclose his interest in “significant assets” to the official in charge of his bankruptcy, the High Court has heard.

McFeely (67) was adjudicated bankrupt in Ireland by the High Court in July 2012, and his bankruptcy was due to expire on 30 July last.

However, Chris Lehane, the official administering the developer’s bankruptcy, claims McFeely has not been co-operating with the process as he is obliged to do.

Represented by Bernard Dunleavy SC and Edward Farrelly BL, Lehane wants the High Court to extend McFeely’s bankruptcy by an additional five years – the maximum period allowed under bankruptcy legislation.

McFeely, represented by Vincent P Martin BL, opposes the application and rejects the allegations against him. He also claims the sanction being sought is oppressive and disproportionate.

The application came before Ms Justice Caroline Costello at the High Court today. The Judge adjourned the case to a date in January for the conclusion of submissions by both parties.

Opening the case Dunleavy said Lehane was seeking the extension because McFeely has engaged in “non co-operation of the most serious kind” and Lehane was left “utterly blind” in terms of his dealings with McFeely.

Counsel said McFeely had also attempted to “stonewall” Lehane in his efforts to get basic simple information from him that is required under the bankruptcy process.

No address

The most significant element of McFeely’s non-co operation was the failure to give Lahane his actual residence.

Counsel said McFeely had given Lehane an address at Claudy in Co Derry, his family home, but he does not reside there.

8/10/2013 Problems with Priory Hall Apartments Priory Hall. Residents were forced to evacuate the apartment complex in Donaghmede, North Dublin in 2011. Laura Hutton / Laura Hutton / /

Despite making many requests for “an actual address” of where McFeely resides, it has “never been provided,” to Lehane. Counsel said McFeely has been living in London where he had been staying with different friends.

McFeely also did not make a full disclosure about his interest in certain “significant assets”, which he is also obliged to do, counsel said.

The non-disclosures were discovered after Lehane obtained documents from a company, Coalport, of which McFeely had been a director.

The assets include several apartments at Aras Na Cluaine in Clondalkin and the Old Saw Mills in Ballymount, Dublin 12.

‘Very grave’

Counsel said the lack of disclosure was very grave and the failure to co-operate has affected Lehane’s ability to conduct his duties to deal with the bankrupt’s estate in the best interest of creditors.

Counsel said there have been many changes to the bankruptcy process in recent times, including the reduction of the period of bankruptcy to just one year.

These changes have also raised the bar in terms of the obligation on a bankrupt person to co-operate with the officials in charge of that process and comply with the rules of disclosure, counsel said – adding that the integrity of process must be protected.

FC-colour Four Courts

In reply, Martin said if the application was successful his client will have to spend eight and half year years in bankruptcy. He said this was oppressive.

The five-year sanction sought was disproportionate given there was no question of McFeely stealing anything from the estate, counsel said.

‘A bewitching manner’

They added that the address McFeely gave in Derry was a perfectly valid one for correspondence, and was the place where his client was brought up and can reside whenever he wishes. Counsel said that any lack of communication between the parties was not his client’s fault.

Counsel also objected to the use of material which he said was taken in a raid by the official assignee of Coalport’s premises. Counsel added that it had objected to Lehane’s use of media reports “in a bewitching manner” as part of the application to extend the length of his client’s bankruptcy.

McFeely was adjudicated bankrupt in July 2012, with substantial debts including €200 million owed to NAMA.

He was previously adjudicated bankrupt in England and Wales. That decision was rescinded after a party owed €100,000 by companies of McFeely brought proceedings here.

Comments are closed due to ongoing legal proceedings.

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Aodhan O Faolain