Limerick businessman ‘will return to settle his affairs’

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Nice life on the Cote d'Azur: Businessman John Shee says he is living modestly in France and is likely to be made bankrupt if he returns to Ireland. He is living in an apartment on Boulevard Victor Hugo, close to the Boscolo Hotel, one of Nice's most expensive hotels. Picture: Irish Mail on Sunday
A LIMERICK businessman who is on the run from Nama and who is avoiding a €24m judgment against him has insisted he is not living the high life in the south of France.

A LIMERICK businessman who is on the run from Nama and who is avoiding a €24m judgment against him has insisted he is not living the high life in the south of France.

Gardai are still seeking to arrest Limerick businessman John Shee 18 months after he fled the country, with over a €24m judgment pending against him in relation to unpaid development loans.

The Limerick Leader had earlier reported that Mr Shee, 64, was widely believed to be living in the south of France.

A reporter and photographer with the Irish Mail on Sunday last week tracked him down to his new hideout in Nice.

But after a day of considering his response to the newspaper he issued a carefully composed reply.

In a statement, he said: “I was suffering from aggressive cancer and I feared the worst so I wanted to tidy up my affairs. This is why I made those transfers in 2009.

“I had to focus on getting better and I’m still facing one more operation, but I do intend to come back when I’m fully recovered.

“Despite the way it looks, I’m living a modest lifestyle and will probably have to bankrupt in due course.

“This is not my wife’s fault. She was never involved in my business and never borrowed money. She feels she is being treated unfairly, because she had no hand act or part in my affairs.”

His wife Mary was also pictured in the newspaper, and she is said to be making regular trips between Limerick and Nice.

This March, garda sources said enquiries were still ongoing as to his whereabouts, and that he is still commanded by the courts to appear before them.

However, the order of attachment is to a civil matter, rather than a criminal case, somewhat limiting the powers of the gardai, especially as he is outside the jurisdiction.

The examination of his financial affairs by the High Court was sought arising from a failure by Mr Shee and others to make repayments under a €24m judgment obtained against them in March 2011, related to unpaid loans advanced by AIB and was later transferred to Nama.

Mr Shee, an accountant who worked with Grant Thornton and a director of over 20 companies including Mowlam Healthcare, one of the largest healthcare providers in the country, transferred the family home in the city’s South Circular Road and an apartment in Ballsbridge to his wife in 2009.

Nama appointed a receiver to one of his main companies, Cracken Properties, in 2012, among 10 firms; 11 others have been dissolved, and two companies appear to be operating as normal, according to the Companies Registration Office.

Land also was seized in Newcastle West and Kilfrush in Clare by Nama under the company’s assets. Mr Shee was also among a consortium intent on developing Tinerana House in Clare, but the €100m plans failed to go ahead, after being turned down by An Bord Pleanala. The property was bought for a fraction of the price by Euromillions winner Dolores McNamara.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly previously noted that there appeared to be “a kind of conspiracy of silence” concerning Mr Shee’s whereabouts, and it appeared there was very little more the gardai could do in this matter of civil contempt.