Crosbie lost up to €20m on Yahoo and AIB shares

Businessman campaigning to be allowed retain control of Bord Gáis Energy Theatre

Harry Crosbie: claims he is being “bullied” by Nama and has objected to a maximum of €5,000 in monthly living expenses, among other conditions. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Harry Crosbie: claims he is being “bullied” by Nama and has objected to a maximum of €5,000 in monthly living expenses, among other conditions. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Businessman Harry Crosbie lost up to €20 million investing in shares in Yahoo and AIB at the peak of the boom.

Mr Crosbie’s failed investment took place at a time when his company borrowings were on their way to more than €400 million as he sought to achieve an ambitious vision for Dublin’s docks.

Mr Crosbie first invested about €20 million in Yahoo in the middle of the last decade. He cut his losses after losing several million euro, switching to AIB shares, his principal lender at the time.

AIB’s share price then collapsed to almost zero because of its exposure to property developers. Mr Crosbie yesterday declined to comment on his stock market investments.

He is currently campaigning to be allowed retain control of the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin’s docklands.

He has described the decision by the National Asset Management Agency to sell it as an “uncivilised and barbarous act” and suggested “the artistic community of Ireland” should stop its sale.

The theatre was built by developer Joe O’Reilly at a cost of €80 million in return for adjoining sites from the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA).

 

200-year lease

The State-owned DDDA then sold a 200-year lease on the €80 million theatre for €10 million to Mr Crosbie. Mr Crosbie borrowed this money from AIB, and the theatre was later cross-collateralised with his other huge borrowings from that bank.

Mr O’Reilly spent several million euro fitting the theatre out to a high standard. Mr O’Reilly sued Mr Crosbie for €5 million in 2010 in relation to this bill.

By then Mr Crosbie’s loan in relation to the theatre was in Nama, after this loan was acquired by the State agency at full value.

Nama was forced to pay Mr O’Reilly €2 million to settle the dispute as otherwise the theatre would not have opened.

Mr Crosbie assured Nama he had no resources to help the taxpayer-owned institution, and this was confirmed in his sworn financial statement of affairs.

After Mr Crosbie’s AIB loans went into Nama, his projects around the Point Village required another €32 million to complete. Nama funded him, as again Mr Crosbie said he had no money to help it.

In the High Court in May it emerged that Mr Crosbie had failed to disclose to the agency assets worth many millions of euro, while allowing it pay his bills and finish his projects at a cost to the taxpayer of €34 million-plus.

In evidence Nama said Mr Crosbie had paid his wife €1.4 million just prior to it taking over his loans and paid himself “€1.5 million in 2011, €1.55 million in 2010, €1.22 million in 2009 and €2.86 million in 2008 from various companies in the connection”. Nama also said Mr Crosbie had misappropriated funds from his companies, given cash gifts to his children and failed to disclose multimillion-euro properties in the south of France. It also said Mr Crosbie was refusing to allow the agency value his art and antiques collection.

Mr Crosbie has denied all wrongdoing and this case continues. He claims he is being “bullied” by Nama and has objected to a maximum of €5,000 in monthly living expenses, among other conditions, being sought by Nama.

These conditions are in return for Nama not enforcing a €77 million judgment against his home and other assets pending further legal proceedings, the Commercial Court heard earlier this month.