O'Brien ordered to repay €1.85m


ALLEGED PYRAMID scheme operator Breifne O’Brien has been ordered by a High Court judge to repay amounts of some €1.85 million given to him by his financier brother-in-law to invest.

The order was not opposed by Mr O’Brien who, in an e-mail to Bernard Lambilliotte last December, wrote: “My regret for what I have subjected you to does not decrease but instead I feel nothing but increasing shame.”

Mr Lambilliotte, managing director of London investment firm Ecofin, said in an affidavit he had until December last completely trusted his brother-in-law and had “no idea that there would be any difficulty in securing repayment of these monies”.

Mr Lambilliotte said he first became aware of “a potential problem over repayment” on December 10th last when Mr O’Brien met him at his (Lambilliotte’s) New York apartment “to inform me of the distressed situation of his financial affairs and that he would not be able to repay me” by December 12th.

“I was very shocked by this news and it came as a complete surprise to me,” he said.

The repayment order, made by Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday in the Commercial Court, relates to money totalling €1,858,396 lent by Mr Lambilliotte to Mr O’Brien in May and December last year. To date, Mr O’Brien, of Invergarry, Silchester Road, Glenageary, has been ordered to repay more than €16 million given to him for investment purposes by 10 people, including Mr Lambilliotte.

His assets have also been frozen in that amount and the judge has referred documents in the various cases to the Garda National Bureau of Fraud Investigation.

Yesterday John Gleeson SC, for Mr Lambilliotte, of Melbury Road, London, said his client had given Mr O’Brien some €1.85 million.

There were “few enough documents” recording that fact because Mr Labilliotte was the brother-in-law of Mr O’Brien but there were two clear acknowledgments of the debt in e-mails.

Mr Gleeson said Mr O’Brien had told Mr Lambilliotte he was about to obtain a very preferential rate of interest from National Irish Bank but, to get that, he had to lodge a sum by December 5th last and there would be a 50/50 split.

It was in those circumstances Mr Lambilliotte, who had already lent Mr O’Brien some €1 million in May 2008, had transferred to Mr O’Brien a further sum of $1 million. The money was to have been repaid no later than December 12th last but that did not happen.

Mr O’Brien had acknowledged the monies were due but said he was not in a position to repay.

Gabriel Gavigan, for Mr O’Brien, said his client was making no admissions as to what was said in Mr Lambilliotte’s affidavit but was not objecting to judgment on the sum sought.

Mr Justice Kelly said it was not surprising, as Mr Lambilliotte was a brother-in-law of Mr O’Brien, there was not a great deal of paperwork concerning the money lent. He was satisfied the sum sought was due and owing.

In an affidavit, Mr Lambilliotte said Mr O’Brien was his wife’s brother in whom, until the events related to this case occurred, “I placed complete trust and confidence”. Mr Lambilliotte said he had advanced loans of €1 million, $1.845 million (€1.12 million) and $993,000 dollars (€780,597) in November 2007, May 2008 and December 2008 respectively.

He lent the first two sums because Mr O’Brien told him he needed the money to secure options on investment properties. He made the third loan because Mr O’Brien told him he could secure a higher rate of interest which they would share 50/50.

The November 2007 loan was repaid, plus a profit, in March 2008, but the total repaid on the other loans was only €119,975.

In the affidavit, Mr Lambilliotte said that on December 1st last, Mr O’Brien had e-mailed him indicating he would return the money by December 12th but no money was repaid.