Unforeseen losses force Irish Psychics Live into liquidation

Realm Communications Limited to be wound up despite predicting a return to profit in 2012


A liquidator has been appointed to the firm behind Irish Psychics Live, which was founded by former journalist Tom Higgins.

A document lodged with the Companies Office confirms that Eamon Leahy of Leahy & Company, Fairview, Dublin has been appointed as liquidator arising from a resolution of the members of Realm Communications Limited.

The liquidation of the firm follows eight months after the company, which was behind what was Ireland’s most high profile and controversial premium phone line service, ceased trading.

The appointment of Mr Leahy also follows a Revenue Commissioner’s notice in January confirming it had petitioned the High Court to wind up Realm Communications Ltd.

The premium phone line business was established in 1998 and built up a large cash pile over the years before Mr Higgins and his wife Theresa Dunne cashed out in 2009, sharing a dividend payout of €9 million.

Mr Higgins has declared his intention to be the first Irish person in space on board Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactia after paying $200,000 for the privilege.

Callers to the premium phone line were charged €2.40 per minute for instant psychic readings. The rates were the subject of calls to Liveline and an on-air spat between broadcaster Pat Kenny and Mr Higgins.

The website for Irish Psychics Live - no longer operating - stated that it was “operated by genuine Celtic psychics, the most psychic race in the world. Only the most spiritually gifted individuals are selected to participate in this site”.

Mr Higgins sold Realm Communications Ltd to Gavin Hickey and Maxine Payne in 2009 and the most recent figures show that after his departure as director, the firm quickly became loss-making, recording a pre-tax loss of €315,225 in 2010 after recording a post-tax profit of €1.1 million in 2009.

This arose from the firm’s income plummeting with the abridged accounts for the 12 months to the end of April 30th 2010 showing its gross profit declined by 72 per cent from €4.27million to €1.19 million.

The figures show that at the end of the period, €805,714 was owed to Revenue through €479,332 in corporation tax, €191,407 in VAT and €134,975 in PAYE/PRSI.

The firm had net liabilities totalling €809,956.

A note attached to the accounts states that “the net assets of the company are negative and the company has reported a loss in the year compared to profits in previous years back to 2003”.

The note adds: “In the subsequent period, the management accounts indicate a return to profitability, although the turnover has reduced substantially and the balance sheet remains insolvent. It is expected that the company will continue to be profitable and return to solvency in the 2011-2012 year.”

It is not known how the firm has fared since financially as the directors have not filed any accounts in over two years with the last accounts filed in December 2011.

Mr Leahy today did not return a call for comment.