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Friday 30 September 2016

Almost five years added to McFeely bankruptcy term

Tom McFeely will remain bankrupt until May 2020 (Picture: PA)
Tom McFeely will remain bankrupt until May 2020 (Picture: PA)

The High Court has extended the bankruptcy of Priory Hall developer Tom McFeely by almost five years.

Ms Justice Caroline Costello said it had been done over "very grave" failures to co-operate with the official administering of his bankruptcy, including failures to disclose his interest in 12 apartments in Dublin.

Five years is the maximum period by which a bankruptcy may be extended, but Ms Justice Costello said McFeely's conduct warranted an extension of almost that period.

She reduced the five year period by some two months to take into account McFeely's age of 67.

The effect is that McFeely, whose bankruptcy was set to expire in July 2015, will now exit bankruptcy in May 2020.

He was adjudicated bankrupt here in July 2012, with substantial debts including €200m owed to Nama.

He was previously adjudicated bankrupt in England and Wales but that was rescinded after a woman, owed €100,000 by companies of McFeely, brought proceedings here.

McFeely, who was not in court for the judgment yesterday, had opposed as disproportionate and oppressive the extension sought by the official assignee in bankruptcy, Chris Lehane.

The judge upheld arguments by Bernard Dunleavy SC, for Mr Lehane, the extent of non-cooperation justified the bankruptcy being extended. The non-cooperation and failure to disclose assets was on the "very grave" and "extreme end of the spectrum" and the extension should reflect that fact, the judge said.

In reality, McFeely has refused to co-operate in any meaningful way with his bankruptcy, she said.

McFeely's initial interview with Mr Lehane in August 2012 was, to McFeely's knowledge, "misleading", she said. He gave his address as his late parents' home in Claudy, Derry, when he knew he never resided there and did not intend to.

He had also failed to disclose his interest in 12 properties.

He had also presented to Mr Lehane the statement of affairs which he had used for his English bankruptcy when he knew that was incomplete and continued thereafter to fail to co-operate with his bankruptcy.

He also sought to "dictate" to Mr Lehane where he would be interviewed.

He also decided his 20pc interest in some properties "and quite possibly 100pc interest" was of nil commercial value although there was no charge on the relevant properties.

Loss

Were it not for the investigations of Mr Lehane, McFeely's creditors would be at a loss as a result of his persistent breach of his statutory obligations, the judge said.

In these proceedings, McFeely had "flatly refused" to provide the address or addresses where he now lives, failed to provide a sworn statement of affairs and has provided a statement of affairs prepared in his English bankruptcy which he knows to be false.

He had "greatly hindered" Mr Lehane in the administration of his estate and the effect of his non-cooperation was to severely prejudice the realisation of his estate for the benefit of his creditors, she said.

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