Showing posts with label O'Brien house in Marbella. Show all posts
Showing posts with label O'Brien house in Marbella. Show all posts

Monday, 28 March 2011

Beach House Marbella 1The Lowry house at Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, and the O'Brien house in Marbella
What the tribunal heard:

Michael Lowry received a loan for £147,000 from the late David Austin, paid into an Isle of Man account. Lawyers for Denis O'Brien said that a short time previously he paid Mr Austin £150,000 for a house in Marbella. That money went into a Jersey account and was then used by Mr Austin to lend Mr Lowry the €147,000. Mr Lowry returned the money to Mr Austin on the day the tribunal was established. Mr Lowry said the "loan" was to help him refurbish a house on Carysfort Avenue in Blackrock, Co Dublin, which he had bought as a second home in July 1996. Mr Lowry said that, following his resignation as a minister, he no longer needed a house in Dublin. He said he sold it back to the builder in January 1997 and repaid the "loan" to Mr Austin the following month.

What the judge concluded:

This was a carefully-planned and covert payment of £147,000 by Denis O'Brien to Michael Lowry and that the money was "hastily repaid (to Mr Austin in February 1997) out of fear of possible disclosure at the time that the McCracken Tribunal was established". The series of transactions was a "belated attempt retrospectively to clothe those transactions with some commercial reality, in circumstances prompted by a realisation that at some point they might be uncovered".

What Denis O'Brien says:

"At no time did I make or attempt to make any payment to Michael Lowry. The purchase of a property in Spain by me and a loan which Michael Lowry took out in relation to a house in Dublin are two completely separate and unrelated transactions. Michael Lowry was not a beneficiary of what are two separate transactions."

The Mansfield property purchase
What the tribunal heard:

A property agent, Kevin Phelan, contacted Michael Lowry in 1997 to gauge his interest in investing in property in the UK. In 1998, Mr Phelan contacted Mr Lowry again to advise him of an investment opportunity in Mansfield. At a meeting in September 1998, Mr Phelan introduced Mr Lowry to solicitor Christopher Vaughan. At the same meeting, Mr Lowry advised Mr Phelan that he did not have the money to purchase the Mansfield property outright. Mr Phelan told him that he was skilled at putting com- binations of investors together.

In December 1998, Mr Lowry put down a 10 per cent deposit of Stg£25,000 on the Mansfield property through Mr Vaughan, having being convinced by Kevin Phelan that he would secure investors to cover the remainder of its Stg£250,000 purchase price.

Mr Lowry told the tribunal that Aidan Phelan was, unknown to him, introduced to the project by Kevin Phelan. Upon the completion of the Mansfield purchase, Michael Lowry and Aidan Phelan met and a 90:10 partnership arrangement was agreed in the latter's favour. By this time, Aidan Phelan had a close business relationship and financial association with Denis O'Brien as an adviser and associate. Apart from his involvement with Esat Digifone, Mr Phelan had been involved in Mr O'Brien's purchase of the Quinta Da Lago resort in the Portuguese Algarve and of a shareholding in Versatel Telecom NV. In or around December 1998, it was agreed that Aidan Phelan should receive a percentage fee of 3 per cent up to a maximum of $1.5m in payment for his work on Versatel.

On March 29, 1999, Aidan Phelan proceeded with Denis O'Brien's agreement to draw Stg£300,000 from O'Brien's Credit Suisse First Boston account in London. This money was transmitted directly to the client account of Christopher Vaughan, where it was credited to Michael Lowry. Mr Vaughan applied the bulk of that amount to discharge the balance on the Mansfield property.

What the judge concluded:

Mr Justice Moriarty says that the form in which the Stg£300,000 payment was made -- through Aidan Phelan -- "was motivated by a desire to conceal the fact that Mr O'Brien was the true source of the payment to Mr Lowry".

Falsification of documents relating to Mr Lowry's involvement in the Mansfield and Cheadle transactions, by solicitor Christopher Vaughan, had been "motivated by a desire to obscure from the tribunal a clear financial connection between Denis O'Brien and Michael Lowry and the payments by the former to the latter".

What Denis O'Brien says:

"The tribunal has yet again tried to connect totally unrelated transactions ... I had nothing to do with either the Mansfield (a derelict farm site in the UK Midlands) or Cheadle (a church hall in the UK Midlands) deals and knew nothing about them until they were brought to my attention by the tribunal in 2001. This is because I had no direct or indirect interest in either of them."

The Doncaster Rovers Football Club lands
What the tribunal heard:

Kevin Phelan had had dealings with Aidan Phelan and Denis O'Brien in connection with a number of substantial UK property ventures, one in Luton and the other at Doncaster Rovers Football Club (where Denis O'Brien was stated to be the sole investor with the assistance of Aidan Phelan as his adviser).

In meetings on September 23 and 24, 1998, with Mr Lowry and Kevin Phelan in September 1998, solicitor Christopher Vaughan formed the impression that Mr Lowry had a "total involvement" in the Doncaster Rovers transaction. He wrote to him in those terms in on September 25, 1998. Mr Vaughan later said that this letter was wrong and Mr Lowry had no involvement in the deal. Mr O'Brien told the tribunal that the lease had been bought by him for Stg£4.3m through an Isle of Man registered company called Westferry and that he (Mr O'Brien) had been introduced to the property by Kevin Phelan. Michael Lowry said he had no involvement in the Doncaster Rovers deal and never received the letter dated September 25, 1998, from Christopher Vaughan.

What the judge concluded:

Mr Lowry did have an involvement in the Doncaster Rovers deal, which "would entail a payment to, or a conferral of pecuniary advantage on him ( Mr Lowry), the source of which was the ultimate beneficial owner of Doncaster, that is, Mr Denis O'Brien". Mr Lowry did not acquire any legal title to Doncaster Rovers after the share transfer in August 1998.

What Denis O'Brien says:

"The Doncaster Rovers Football Club deal was exclusively mine. Michael Lowry had no hand, act or part in this deal. Indeed, the tribunal report makes no finding that Michael Lowry benefited from this transaction."

Sunday Independent

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