A well-known Letterkenny property-developer who transferred €1.6m to an offshore trust in the Isle of Man has told the High Court he can’t be certain where the money has gone.
The missing cash is the subject of a freezing order granted after receivers were appointed to property company Brendan Gildea Ltd by National Irish Bank.
Mr Gildea is a respected businessman and has built many of Donegal’s best-known housing developments.
Lawyers for AIB said they may have found the money. Although the bank is not involved in the case, it went to court after noticing a bank transfer that it thinks could match the money covered by the freezing order.
The controversial €1.6m is the subject of intensive court hearings. Developer Brendan Gildea, of Brookside Villas, Magherennan, Letterkenny, moved the money to the Isle of Man last April, before his company, listed with the same address, was taken into receivership in May.
However receivers Martin Ferris & Associates, who were appointed to the company by NIB, want the funds returned.
They say the money belongs to the company and ultimately to the bank, not to Mr Gildea.
Brendan Gildea Ltd was taken into receivership on May 30 this year after failing to repay debts of €6.4m. The missing €1.6m was paid by Mr Gildea’s company into his own account in part settlement of €4.8m of director’s loans he made to the company.
The court has not ruled on who is entitled to the funds, but it did issue a freezing order stopping the money being moved until the matter is settled. The company loans were backed by personal guarantees from Mr Gildea, which are also understood to have been called in by the bank.
The developer now risks being jailed for contempt of court, because lawyers said he failed to correctly disclose the location of the €1.6m when the High Court issued its freezing order on July 4.
They said that, on July 4, lawyers for Mr Gildea told the court the money was in the Isle of Man, even though Mr Gildea had ordered the money to be transferred to another account on June 20. In previous evidence, Mr Gildea said he failed to mention moving the money because he was not sure that the transfer had been completed.
Yesterday Mr Gildea apologised to the Court for failing to refer to the transfer request at the time the freezing order was made.
The judge ajourned the case until July 19 but ordered AIB to give details of the account they believe could hold the money to Myles Kirby of Martin Ferris & Associates.