herald

Tuesday 12 November 2019

This man owes €2.8bn but gets €200k a year to live here

DEBTS: Outrage as NAMA funds Joe O'Reilly's luxury lifestyle

THE resident of this luxury mansion has bank debts of €2.8bn but is paid €200,000 a year by NAMA.

Prominent politicians and businessmen have branded developer Joe O'Reilly's position "an absolute outrage" and said "it is no wonder Germany are disgusted with us".

Mr O'Reilly, who developed the Dundrum Town Centre, is NAMA's largest client with debts of €2.8bn.

Yet it is paying him his huge salary with taxpayers' money while allowing him to live in his seven-bed Foxrock mansion complete with indoor swimming pool, sauna, gym, tennis court and golfing facilities.

Today, People Before Profit's Richard Boyd Barrett described the decision as "an absolute outrage that is beyond words".

And veteran businessman Ben Dunne said NAMA was "rubbing our noses in it" when it comes to the treatment some developers.

"People who helped to bankrupt the country are being paid with taxpayer's money while others are being slaughtered by austerity cuts," said Mr Boyd Barrett.

"It beggars belief. The poor and the vulnerable are being pushed over the edge by this," he added.

"This developer has loans he cannot repay to the banks, so the taxpayer has to stump-up and then pay their salary too while suffering cut after cut themselves."

Mr O'Reilly was also one of the Anglo Golden Circle of 10 who agreed to borrow money from the bank to buy up shares being offloaded by the now bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn.

That matter is still under investigation by gardai, the director of corporate enforcement and the financial regulator.

Mr O'Reilly was also one of the largest housing developers in the State through his companies Chartered Land and Castlethorn Construction.

He bought his Foxrock home during the housing boom in the mid-90s. It was a more modest five-bed Victorian residence at the time, but an ambitious list of extensions have transformed it into a luxury mansion. And Mr O'Reilly's negotiations with NAMA ensure that he is in no danger of losing the house.

In the back garden, amenities include a tennis court, a putting green and a sand bunker on half a hectare of lawns overlooked by decking and terraces.

Plans approved by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council in 2004 for the property include a 20m indoor swimming pool, a private gym, a cinema/games room, a hot tub and sauna and an assortment of recreation and living rooms extending to three floors.

When his loans were first taken into NAMA, O'Reilly and his related companies owed Anglo Irish Bank €1.8bn. More than €1bn is owed to other banks, mostly to AIB.

"I don't know if NAMA are worse or Joe O'Reilly is worse, they're both as bad as each other," businessman Mr Dunne told the Herald.

"Joe O'Reilly has as much chance of living in that house on that money as the man on the moon.

"It's no wonder the Germans are disgusted with us. He's rubbing our noses in it," Mr Dunne added.

Mr O'Reilly's deal with NAMA allows him to remain in his own home and earn a tax payer-funded salary of €200,000 in return for helping to manage his ongoing developments.

cfeehan@herald.ie

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