Limerick developer Ger O’Rourke is €100m in the red

LIMERICK developer and sailing enthusiast Ger O’Rourke is being forced to sell one of his beloved boats which he sailed in international competitions, due to his companies’ liabilities of over €100m.

LIMERICK developer and sailing enthusiast Ger O’Rourke is being forced to sell one of his beloved boats which he sailed in international competitions, due to his companies’ liabilities of over €100m.

But Mr O’Rourke, 50, the founder of the financially troubled Chieftain group, has told the Commercial Court that he intends to return to construction again.

The businessman, who was formerly based on William Street, was addressing in court an unsatisfied judgment against him for €21 million in favour of AIB over unpaid loans for lands purchased in Corbally and Cork. “I don’t know what my future will be. I will have to wait until after these proceedings,” he told Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan.

He said his life over the next 10 years will depend on whether Nama bankrupted him here, and outlined potential plans to start work again in South Africa. In a statement of affairs provided to the court, Mr O’Rourke said he had liabilities of about €101m against assets of just €3.72m.

The Ballyclough resident said he has no contracts at present but hoped to use his expertise to secure new projects such as affordable and social housing in Africa. But he said he was unable to tender for projects due to a lack of security to bond them, and any new venture would require partners or investors.

He said he had included details of all his assets in his statement of affairs, had “nothing to hide” and wanted to “co-operate with Nama”.

He accepted he had not included in that statement a boat owned by one of his companies, Chieftain Racing, valued between €500,000 to €900,000. He said he omitted the boat because it was now a negative asset which he had given to an agent of Lombard Bank, which has security on it, to sell. He expected it to sell for about €400,000.

In January 2011 a receiver was appointed to three of his Chieftain firms – Chieftain Construction Ltd, Chieftain City Campus Ltd, and Chieftain Developments Ltd, while Chieftain Construction Holdings Ltd went into liquidation.

The companies had, up to that point, procured in excess of €2billion worth of construction projects over 20 years, employing up to 400 people at any one time. But more than €64 million was owed to creditors across Ireland and the UK at that time.

“Since 2008 the markets have collapsed and the selling of houses, our main bread and butter, was more difficult to do. We had a good 20 years here in Limerick, and in the rest of country,” he told the Limerick Leader at that time.