Kevin O'Higgins Solicitors

Mick Wallace’s property company being wound up by US firm

Monday, 22 February, 2016
The Irish Times
Barry O'Halloran

US fund Cerberus is winding up TD Mick Wallace’s property business just weeks after it succeeded in winning a €2 million judgment against him.

Mr Wallace, an Independent TD for Wexford, last month failed to halt Cerberus’s efforts to obtain aHigh Court judgment for €2 million arising out of a debt due from his company, M&J Wallace Ltd, secured against its Italian Quarter development in Dublin.

A Cerberus subsidiary,Promontoria Aran, has appointed Mícheál Leydon of Outlook Accountants as liquidator to M&J Wallace, after petitioning the High Court to have it wound up.

Separate proceeding

The wind-up petition was a separate proceeding to the judgment Cerberus received against the TD himself. Documents filed with the Companies’ Registrar show that Promontoria Aran appointed Mr Leydon on Thursday.

M&J Wallace has been in receivership since 2011, when ACC Bank appointed Declan Taite of Farrell Grant Sparks to it on foot of a €20 million debt.

The High Court cases against Mr Wallace and his company were the first such actions taken by Cerberus against any of its Irish creditors, although it has appointed receivers to some of their assets.

The TD sparked controversy last year when he raised questions over Cerberus’s purchase of a group of Northern Ireland-linked loans, called Project Eagle, from the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) for €1.6 billion.

Criminal complaint

Claims that prominent politicians and business figures were to benefit from the deal prompted a criminal complaint and two parliamentary investigations, which are still ongoing. Cerberus has denied any wrongdoing.

The fund has bought €20 billion worth of property debt at heavily discounted prices in Ireland in recent years. Most recently, it paid a reported €800 million for a portfolio of loans from Nama, with €6.25 billion in unpaid balances.

Cerberus bought the M&J Wallace liabilities from Ulster Bank in late 2014 as part of a package of property debts sold by the lender in a transaction dubbed Project Aran.

Mr Wallace, whose is tipped to be re-elected this week, gave Ulster Bank a €2 million personal guarantee against a loan to M&J Wallace. This was secured against his Italian Quarter development on Dublin’s Ormond Quay.