John Mulhern, businessman and horse trainer, dies aged 69


THE DEATH has taken place of the businessman and racehorse trainer, John Mulhern. He was 69.

Mr Mulhern is survived by his wife, Goffs chairman Éimear Mulhern, who is the daughter of former taoiseach Charles Haughey. He died yesterday morning after a long illness.

He was a successful businessman and was for a long time the operator of the Findus frozen foods business in the Republic.

His Clayton Love Distribution business distributed frozen food products sold under the Findus, McCain, Jus Rol and First Choice brands. The business was sold to the Antrim-based food group, SHS, in 2004.

He had a great interest in horses and horse racing, and was the retired boss of Meadow Court Stud in Kildare. He had high-profile success as a trainer, winning what was then the Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 1987 and 1988 with Galmoy, and training Flashing Steel to win the Irish Grand National in 1995.

Mr Mulhern’s business career often involved him in controversy.

Just last week his name featured in Iris Oifigiúil as a tax defaulter. He made a €1.4 million tax settlement arising from the underpayment of income tax and capital gains tax.

He featured in the High Court inspectors report into the Ansbacher Deposits, the secretive banking system operated by Mr Haughey’s former accountant, the late Des Traynor.

It was dealings in relation to the Clayton Love Distribution group that brought him to the attention of the inspectors. A significant stake in the group was held by way of a Guernsey company, College Trustees, which was part of the Ansbacher system.

In 1993 the shareholding was sold to Clayton Love in two tranches, for £3.2 million. Mr Mulhern told the inspectors he did not know who the beneficial owner of the College Trustees shareholding was. The inspectors later discovered that some of the money paid out had gone to Mr Mulhern.

The businessman more recently crossed swords with the Director of Corporate Enforcement Paul Appleby. An inquiry concerning Mr Mulhern and initiated in 2004 involved the use of a search warrant, Mr Appleby disclosed at the time.

A year later, in the District Court in Kildare, a lawyer acting for Mr Mulhern complained that he was being targeted for breaches of company law because of his high profile. No prosecution was ever brought.

Mr Mulhern was also a silent partner in the Century Radio business in the late 1980s.