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Wednesday 7 December 2016

THE estranged wife of bankrupt stokes claims 'he left kids'

Conach Stokes pictured leaving Dublin High Court
Conach Stokes pictured leaving Dublin High Court
Simon Stokes

Bankrupt businessman Simon Stokes' estranged wife has told the High Court how he "left his children - he has just returned from a holiday abroad".

Conach Stokes (nee Breslin) told the court that she wants to be added to his list of creditors as part of his bankruptcy process.

Mr Stokes and his twin Christian were both declared bankrupt last November.

They were once regarded as the poster boys for the Celtic Tiger era and ran Residence Members Club on St Stephen's Green.

The club was seized by the banks and put into receivership in January 2010 by the High Court, which refused to extend court protection to Missford Ltd, a holding company set up by the brothers.

Their entire business venture went bust with debts of €9m, €3m of which is owed to Revenue.

Affairs

Ms Justice Caroline Costello was dealing yesterday with a part of the process known as a "statutory sitting" where the full details of a bankrupt's financial affairs must be provided to the court-appointed officer administering the bankruptcy, official assignee Chris Lehane.

Businesswoman Ms Breslin, who married Mr Stokes in 2003, told the court she was there on behalf of her three children and her parents, who are also owed money by her estranged husband.

"I just want to make you aware about the situation and how he has left his children - he has just returned from a holiday abroad," she said.

Ms Breslin nodded when the judge suggested she may not wish to be called Mrs Stokes.

Mr Stokes' counsel asked the court to adjourn the statutory sitting for a week.

When the judge agreed, Ms Breslin said: "I would like our names to be added to the list of creditors."

After consulting with the official assignee, the judge told her that a person was entitled to appear in court as a creditor, but the procedure was that they should first submit a claim to Mr Lehane.

Members of her family could do likewise, the judge said.

Ms Justice Costello also passed the statutory sitting for Christian Stokes after a separate counsel appeared on his behalf.

Both brothers had been required to attend, or be represented, at the statutory sitting for the purpose of ensuring the official assignee had been provided with full details of their property money and to ensure that all their debts are known.

The twins also ran Bang restaurant in Dublin's city centre. Their father is restaurateur Jeff Stokes, who ran the Unicorn, and their mother is Pia Bang, a Danish interior designer with a number of stores in Ireland.

In 2014, the brothers and their parents consented to a €14.7m judgment being entered against them arising from various loans and guarantees.

In January 2012, the High Court disqualified the brothers from being company directors until this year, arising out of their involvement in Residence.

An earlier High Court hearing was told they had spent nearly €150,000 of company money over an 18-month period pursuing a jet-set lifestyle.

Damaging

It also heard how PAYE and PRSI docked from the wages of staff was used to keep the company behind Residence going as it struggled to turn a profit, which proved to be most damaging.

Referring to this, Mr Justice Peter Kelly called the twins "delinquent directors", saying they had engaged in "a form of thieving" by using tax money to trade.

Both brothers were disqualified from serving as company directors.

That period of disqualification expired last month.

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