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

MacAnthony in court to answer charges

Reported on Real Estate Marbella APRIL 26, 2012

Darragh MacAnthony

Darragh MacAnthony, 36, has appeared in court in Marbella to explain what happened to money paid by customers of his overseas property company, MRI, for furniture packs that were never delivered.

MacAnthony is accused of accepting payments from MRI customers for furniture packages which the claimants say they didn’t receive.

Speaking in court yesterday the football chairman claimed the money was paid to furniture companies in Bulgaria and Turkey and that they are the ones who have failed to deliver. He added that he had paid money back to some clients out of his own pocket.

When asked about the company he claimed that MRI was legally wound up in 2010. However, Antonio Flores, from law firm Lawbird acting for the plaintiffs, said that Companies House shows it is still trading, and furthermore accounts for years 2009 and 2010 were submitted just one month ago, on March 29th, according to the registry.

Also in the dock, former MRI chief executive, Dominic Pickering said he was not a director of the company but was there to “sort out furniture problems” following MacAnthony’s departure from Spain in 2010. Pickering claimed he was paid up to €20,000 per month to deal with the problems which he said were “sorted in 99.9% of cases.” He also backed up MacAnthony’s claim that the money had in fact been paid to the furniture companies.

Fernando de Arespacochaga, 91, became the frontman of MRI following MacAnthony’s departure. He said he had been paid €600 per month by the MacAnthony’s to front the company. He claimed his nephew had convinced him to sign and he had done so “in good faith”. He added that he, and his company, are insolvent.

Over 40 plaintiffs are claiming over 600,000 has been paid to MRI to furnish properties they had also purchased through the company.

Darragh left court refusing to comment.

Darragh MacAnthony in court over MRI claims

BY ANDREW PENMAN ON APRIL 25, 2012 11:00 PM

Holiday property mogul Darragh MacAnthony appeared in a Spanish court yesterday to answer charges that he never delivered furniture packs worth £400,000 to 51 customers.

The 36-year-old Irish multi-millionaire and chairman of Peterborough United was summonsed by the Marbella criminal court after the customers filed a complaint against him and his company, MacAnthony Realty International.

Lawyer Antonio Flores said the company had acted “in a disgraceful manner”, adding: “They never filed for insolvency in Spain. They simply disappeared.”

Records show that the former holiday home giant moved its registered premises to a ghost office in Madrid where it was placed under the management of a non-trading Peruvian company run by a 90-year-old man.

MacAnthony denies the accusations and has blamed the credit crunch, which forced several of MRI’s furniture suppliers to fold, and has called the legal action as a “ridiculous suit”.

The Spanish judge will decide whether MacAnthony and the five other defendants should face the charges of “misappropriation of funds and theft by swindle”.

Original Report

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