Court quiz for soccer boss in fraud probe

Reported in the Herald.ie by Gerard Couzens

Thursday April 26 2012

Darragh MacAnthony

FOOTBALL boss Darragh MacAnthony faced a court grilling over claims his company swindled holiday home owners out of hundreds of thousands of euros.

The Dublin-born entrepreneur was quizzed for nearly two hours by a Spanish judge about his property empire and a furniture sales sideline.

Mr MacAnthony, once estimated to be worth €180m, was chaffeur-driven to the court in upmarket Marbella to answer allegations of “misappropriation of funds and theft by swindle.”

Dozens of ex-customers sparked the probe after complaining nearly €500,000 worth of furniture, ordered more than five years ago from his company for apartments in Morocco, Bulgaria and Cape Verde, was never delivered.

The Peterborough United chairman declined to comment as he left after the hearing behind closed doors and was driven away to the luxury hotel where he is staying in a €2,650-a-night private villa.

Four other business associates linked to his property firm MacAnthony Realty International were also questioned.

Investigating judge Beatriz Gomez-Escolar is probing allegations MacAnthony and his business associates misappropriated around €550,000 from 56 customers and stripped MRI of its assets before a de facto closing as part of an elaborate fraud involving the use of an OAP frontman.

The investigation into MRI’s business practices launched in January after a group of 51 buyers ratified an earlier claim that €492,000 of furniture they ordered for holiday homes was never delivered.

Five more people have since come forward to claim they were victims as well.

MRI has consistently denied any allegations of wrongdoing.

Mr MacAnthony, who has not been charged with any crime, has said in the past: “There are no foundations behind these allegations. I certainly didn’t do anything wrong and neither did anyone with MRI when I was there.”

hnews@herald.ie

– Gerard Couzens

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