High court reporters
The High Court has made orders disqualifying a co-founder of the Blackrock Clinic private hospital group and his wife from being company directors for a number of years.
Mr Justice Michael Quinn imposed a 10-year director disqualification on retired surgeon Dr Joseph Sheehan (77) and a similar sanction lasting seven and a half years on his wife Norah Sheehan (73).
The liquidator of their company Blackrock Medical Partners Limited (BMPL), Myles Kirby, represented by David Whelan BL and Hayes Solicitors, made the application to the High Court this week.
The couple, who live in Illinois in the United States, did not appear in court, but Dr Sheehan has previously denied any wrongdoing.
BMPL was formed in 2000 to develop the Galway Clinic private medical facility and, until 2020, it had a 25 per cent shareholding in Marpole Limited, the operating company of the Galway Clinic.
In a sworn statement, Mr Kirby, of Kirby Healy Chartered Accountants, said he had identified a number of transactions he believes “to be entirely improper and to constitute a fraud on the company and its creditors”.
Among these, is an alleged series of five payments totalling €2.6 million, made in early 2020, to people or entities seemingly connected with the firm, which the liquidator said seems to have been made with a view to putting the money out of reach of creditors.
In February 2020, Larry Goodman’s Parma Investments Limited was granted an order to freeze certain of BMPL’s assets, after expressing concerns the company might seek to dissipate its recently acquired assets before meeting the costs of its failed 2016 High Court battle against Parma over control of the Galway Clinic.
The court heard then that BMPL had allegedly recently come into funds of several million euro following a sale by a receiver of BMPL’s shares in Marpole to Parma. BMPL was ordered to pay some €800,000 to Parma and the other defendants in that case.
It appeared to Mr Kirby that BMPL had received €3.25 million on January 17th, 2020, from the receiver’s sale of its Marpole shares.
It seems that between January 20th and February 6th of that year, prior to the freezing order, the entire sum was transferred to various individuals and entities, he said. Mr Kirby said he believes that at least €2.6 million of this was transferred to persons or entities in some way connected to BMPL.
The liquidator was also of the opinion that the company was insolvent “for some time prior” to the winding-up petition, which was brought by Parma in January of last year.
He said he has not seen any evidence that BMPL consistently maintained sufficient books and records to allow its financial position to be ascertained and an “almost complete absence of records” relating to the transactions he took issue with.
Mr Kirby said the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement agreed with his opinion that disqualification proceedings were appropriate for all directors.
The liquidator said he has also commenced proceedings in the US aimed at obtaining information about what became of €2.5 million that was allegedly dissipated from BMPL.