Sunday, December 09, 2001
Irish company in asset probe on Christian Brothers
Sunday, December 02, 2001 By Emily O’Reilly
The liquidator is expected to ask an Irish court to allow him to investigate the company, Richmond Newstreet. Dublin-based Des Lamont heads up L and P Financial Trustees Ltd, which acts as secretary to the company and shares an address in Clonskeagh in Dublin. Lamont helped negotiate the controversial £20 million loan by beef baron Larry Goodman to Tipperary farmer Joe Kenny in 1990. A lengthy legal dispute arose from the Goodman/Kenny transaction. According to David Wingfield, lawyer to the Canadian liquidators, Richmond was set up in 1994 as an off-shore trust for the Christian Brothers.
Two years later, in 1996, the court appointed a liquidator to the Christian Brothers in Canada in order to release assets to pay massive compensation claims to sexual and physical abuse victims of the Brothers. According to Wingfield, the Brothers claimed total assets of just over $4 million. However, the Brothers own accountants subsequently discovered that many assets had not appeared on official corporate documentation. Wingfield also discovered other documents which cast doubt over the figures supplied by the Brothers.
In one letter to the Christian Brothers, seen by The Sunday Business Post, Lamont suggests transferring assets to Richmond, but warns to keep this hidden from view. “We are concerned that any mention in legal documentation of Richmond Newstreet, which might become public in Canada in the future, might create, or focus, a target for some person or body with litigious interests,” he wrote.
The investigation eventually uncovered papers which revealed the existence of the Richmond Newstreet Trust as well as many official letters from L and P Financial Trustees Ltd, some signed by Lamont. The Christian Brothers told Lamont that only small sums of money had gone to the Trust which they described as an “educational” trust. However, Wingfield told The Sunday Business Post this weekend: “Our suspicions are that Richmond Newstreet was established as a vehicle to hold assets internationally in a manner that makes it very difficult for those assets to be seized by creditors.
“The Christian Brothers accountants concluded that the Christian Brothers had assets that were not properly recorded on corporate financial documentation and there is internal Christian Brothers documentation which reveal assets much greater than they have admitted to. We have grave suspicions about the whereabouts of those assets and believe they may have been diverted off-shore.” Wingfield confirmed that the liquidator has advised the winding-up court that he will seek leave to investigate where the assets have gone. This would involve securing a court order in this country to allow an investigation of Richmond Newstreet.
All of the 12 named directors of the company appear to be Christian Brothers, most of them with addresses at the order’s Rome headquarters. They include the head of the Christian Brothers congregation in Rome, Edmund Garvey.
The liquidator of the Christian Brothers organisation in Canada is preparing to investigate an Irish-registered company in his search for tens of millions of pounds of the organisation’s assets. The liquidator of the Christian Brothers organisation in Canada is preparing to investigate an Irish-registered company in his search for tens of millions of pounds of the organisation’s assets.
Sunday, December 09, 2001 :