Friday 21 October 2016

'Aggressive' McFeely hiding assets - bankruptcy expert

Bankrupt Tom McFeely has been accused of hiding assets
Bankrupt Tom McFeely has been accused of hiding assets

A web of offshore companies was used to shield controversial builder Tom McFeely's ownership of an apartment building close to London's Olympic stadium, it has been claimed.

The allegation was one of several levelled against the Priory Hall developer as part of proceedings issued by insolvency official Christopher Lehane aimed at prolonging Mr McFeely's bankruptcy for another five years.

The 67-year-old builder has claimed he is merely a trustee of a company called Ashwood Enterprises Ltd, which previously owned Athena Court, a 28-storey complex in Stratford, not far from Olympic Park.

The developer has denied claims he used the Isle of Man-registered company to salt away more than €3.5m in rent from the complex which could have gone to his creditors.

Firms registered in the Isle of Man are not obliged to publicly disclose the identities of shareholders or beneficial owners.

According to official assignee Mr Lehane, most of the shares in Ashwood are owned by a mysterious entity called Taupin Trustee Ltd, on the Caribbean island of Nevis.

In a filing to the High Court, Mr Lehane said the holding of development land through an offshore vehicle was "a common practice to shelter any gain arising from the enhancement in value of the site from capital gains tax in England".


The row over whether Mr McFeely owned Ashwood is the latest in a series of flashpoints in the bankruptcy battle being fought by the developer and Mr Lehane.

One-time IRA hunger striker McFeely was declared bankrupt in 2012 with debts of €220m.

Mr Lehane, whose job it is to distribute the assets of bankrupts to creditors, has accused McFeely of being "aggressive", failing to disclose all his assets, and thwarting investigations into his affairs.

In turn, Mr McFeely alleged the official assignee was biased against him because of his Northern republican background. He has also denied failing to disclose any assets.

The dispute over the ownership of Ashwood was cited by Mr Lehane as one of the reasons why Mr McFeely should have his period in bankruptcy prolonged. The High Court is set to decide this year whether Mr McFeely's bankruptcy period should be extended.

Nama moved to have a receiver appointed to the Stratford apartment building last year after a McFeely-owned firm failed to repay a €62m loan from Bank of Ireland. It was subsequently sold for a reported £30m (€42.3m).

A previous action heard claims that €3.75m in rent from the building had been hidden by Mr McFeely; an allegation that he denied.

In court filings, Mr Lehane stated, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it was his "view that Ashwood is a vehicle which ultimately belongs to the bankrupt".

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