Injunction granted against ex rugby star Shane Byrne over waste firm

Case taken by Oxigen against Byrne and his brother William over joint operation, court told

It was alleged by Oxigen that former rugby international Shane Byrne wrongfully claimed €1,006 in expenses from AWD when he was on a trip to climb Kiliminjaro in Africa. File image: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

It was alleged by Oxigen that former rugby international Shane Byrne wrongfully claimed €1,006 in expenses from AWD when he was on a trip to climb Kiliminjaro in Africa. File image: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

 

A High Court judge has granted interim injunctions against former Irish rugby international Shane Byrne, and his brother William arising from serious concerns about their conduct of the affairs of a waste disposal company of which they are shareholders and directors.

Among the concerns about the conduct of the affairs of AWD Waste Solutions Ltd is that cash jobs invoiced for emptying septic tanks which should have been charged at €250 were allegedly only charged at one cent on the company invoices, leaving cash unaccounted for to the company.

It is also alleged Shane Byrne wrongfully claimed €1,006 in expenses from AWD when he was on a trip to climb Kilimanjaro in Africa and used the company debit card for “lavish” personal expenses, including €1,060 to a restaurant in Kilkenny on September 21st last and €117.60 to a pub next door to that restaurant.

It is also claimed both brothers are using AWD fuel cards for private driving by themselves and their wives and that both brothers unlawfully credited their golf club membership to the company.

The claims were made by Oxigen Environmental Unlimited Company, a 51 per cent shareholder in AWD, in its application for injunctions against the brothers, who are 49 per cent shareholders.

Shane Byrne is a joint managing director of AWD, which employs 24 people and has registered offices at Harmony Row, Dublin 2, while William Byrne is a director. AWD is involved in the waste disposal, septic tank, drain cleaning and skip business.

The orders, made ex parte (one side only represented), restrain the respondents removing AWD company files or papers from its operations office at Glanbia House, Inch, Co Wexford, and from disposing of, or attempting to dispose of any records of any work done by it for any party within the last four years, and requiring them to preserve such records.

Oxigen’s concerns about the conduct of the affairs of AWD include that books and records of the company have been removed and destroyed, that monies may be missing, and about payments being made in cash, including to mechanics, Ronnie Hudson, for Oxigen, told Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds on Thursday.

‘Missing monies’

Mr Hudson said it was “impossible at this stage” to even put an estimate on the amount of missing monies but there could be some €150,000 unaccounted for in missing books of the company and perhaps a sum between €15,000 and €115,000 concerning missing bin tags. This was all against the background of Shane Byrne climbing Kiliminjaro and holidaying to Bermuda, he said.

Mr Hudson said the orders were being sought because his side had sought but not secured undertakings from the respondents not to remove or destroy books and records. Those undertakings had been sought in a letter of September 24th last, he said.

Counsel also said his solicitor has received an email on behalf of the respondents on Wednesday night. The judge, who was provided with that email, asked was counsel aware a part-time staff member had been hired to assist investigations.

Mr Hudson said Oxigen’s forensic accountants had not got access to the materials and its solicitor had alerted the Garda Fraud Squad about the matter. His side’s concerns include about the amount of missing monies and that there may be further steps to destroy and remove company records, he said.

Ms Justice Reynolds said, having regard to the “very serious” issues raised in the affidavits, it seemed appropriate in all the circumstances to grant the injunctions sought pending further order. She returned the matter to next Tuesday.

In court documents, Oxigen said the respondents had asked Oxigen around 2012 to get involved in their businesses, which were operated under the entities Arklow Waste Disposal Ltd, Arklow Pipe and Drain Ltd and Arklow Waste Management Ltd, because they were in financial difficulty.

Oxigen said it agreed to do so and AWD was later established in which Oxigen was a 51 per cent shareholder and the respondents held 49 per cent. Oxigen says Shane and William Byrne are the directors in day to day control of AWD’s affairs and both are based at the company office at Inch, Co Wexford.

It says Oxigen provides various supports to AWD and AWD provides its own standalone accounting system and maintains all of its own books and records at the Inch office.

Oxigen said it became aware in recent months of matters within AWD which caused concern, including employee issues, and said the respondents directors had failed to alert Oxigen to those issues until a directors meeting of September 2nd last. It had also reviewed financial transactions of AWD, including expense claims by the respondents. That review raised several concerns.