Irish green energy firm may be dissolved
A GREEN energy company supported by Business Expansion Scheme investors’ money faces the prospect of being struck off and dissolved for failing to file its accounts on time.
Pronanotect, which was founded by businessman Declan Conway and trades as Openoils, has been listed for strike-off by the Companies’ Registration Office.
Companies that fail to file their annual returns and accounts on time with the CRO can be struck off, a move that effectively dissolves them, and which could expose shareholders to liability for debts should business continue trading.
Mr Conway, who is best-known for his involvement with Irish telecoms software business Openet, which he left after it was sold in 2001, set up Pronanotect in 2009 in an office in Bray, Co Wicklow.
The company raised between €500,000 and €1 million from BES investors, but the Revenue Commissioners have yet to approve it for business expansion scheme tax relief. However, Wicklow County Enterprise Board did certify Pronanotect was involved in an activity that qualified for BES support, a first step towards getting Revenue’s approval for the scheme itself.
The enterprise board also approved it for a €22,000 employment grant, €11,000 of which Pronanotect has drawn down.
Trading as Openoils, the company intends processing waste plastics to produce clean oil, using technology developed by Polish company Tovark and Hungarian manufacturer Pinter Muvek, its partners in the project.
According to an information memorandum, the company plans to roll out this technology in Ireland, Europe, the US, India and eventually other locations. Openoils agreed last year to establish a base in a new, green technology industrial park in Ohio. The memo states the full amount of investment required would be about €1.5 billion and estimates that the business is capable of generating up €1 billion a year in revenues.
Pronanotect’s backers include Avant Capital Partners, Mr Conway’s own investment vehicle, and, according to its information memorandum, funds raised from “tax-based BES investors”.
Pronanotect has not filed returns since 2010, when it produced accounts for 2009. Those figures showed that, on December 31st of that year, it had €394,000 in the bank. It is understood that that this included initial investment from BES backers who contributed €500,000 that year.
It raised further BES cash during 2010, with the aid of Crowleys DFK, which it names as an adviser in its memorandum of information. No one from that firm was available to comment.
Mr Conway enjoyed a high-profile during the technology boom, and represented Openet at the 2001 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. His association with the business ended over a decade ago. Since then, he has been involved in telecoms and energy projects, and in social entrepreneurship.
It was recently reported that another of his companies, Kinsale Mobile, is being pursued for €177,000 on foot of a High Court judgment made in February 2011.