Well-known criminal family had engaged Limerick person to collect debt from Galway businessman

A businessman has been subpoenaed to appear before the High Court after a judge was told gardai had received information a "well-known criminal family" had engaged a person in Limerick, "known to the gardai", to collect a debt from a Galway businessman, James Clancy.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern directed a subpoena could be served on the home address of businessman Tony Woods, described as the owner of Midland Steel, after being told attempts to serve a subpoena on Mr Woods personally at his workplace had proved unsuccessful.

The judge was dealing with issues arising from the continuing efforts by ACC Asset Finance to enforce a €3.29 million judgment order obtained by it in April 2009 against Mr Clancy, Furbo, Co Galway.

The De Lage Langen Ireland Company, trading as ACC Asset Finance, had secured the judgment over unpaid loans for a machine used for the manufacture of prefabricated polystyrene houses.

ACC Asset Finance has been attempting for some time to secure information about assets of Mr Clancy in the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere but has alleged he has failed to provide all the information sought.

Mr Clancy was jailed last April for two weeks for contempt of court orders in that regard and Mr Justice McGovern has warned him he faces another more substantial period in prison unless the court orders are complied with. The matter was "very serious", the judge said.

A solicitor for Mr Clancy told the judge last week the "wrong impression" was given to the court last month that Mr Clancy had received money from "elements" in Limerick.

The solicitor said the court previously heard Mr Clancy had an agent in Abu Dhabi, Stephen Graham, who had helped him negotiate the release of equipment held there with €150,000 money raised by Mr Clancy from Mr Tony Woods, the owner of Midland Steel. Mr Clancy, the court previously heard, had spent some €4.8 million on equipment as part of an intended joint venture building project.

Mr Clancy had intended going into partnership with another company in Abu Dhabi but that did not happen, the solicitor said. His instructions were Mr Graham had negotiated the release of equipment and this was stored in another warehouse in Abu Dhabi but further storage and other costs were incurred and some €275,000 was now owed.

It appeared Mr Woods had employed persons to collect the debt or had sold the debt to them but Mr Clancy had no connections with those persons, the solicitor added.

Det Garda Michael Staunton, attached to the crime unit of Salthill garda station in Galway, said he had called to Mr Clancy at his home last month to speak with him after the Garda criminal intelligence unit received information there was a threat to Mr Clancy and a well known criminal family had engaged a person in Limerick, known to the gardai, to collect a debt from Mr Clancy. Mr Clancy had also received advice from the Garda Crime Prevention Unit, he said.

Det Staunton also said the intelligence available to him identified the person to whom money was owed but he was claiming privilege over the intelligence. He could not disclose details about security measures, he added.

In reply to Shane Murphy SC, for ACC, Det Staunton said Mr Graham was not mentioned in the intelligence reports. Asked if Mr Tony Woods was included in those reports, Det Staunton said he was claiming privilege.

Det Staunton added he would describe Mr Clancy's house as "fairly large". He added he knew the Clancy family and it had never come to his attention Mr Clancy was involved in any criminal activity. Mr Clancy was "a fairly prominent businessman" when he first came into contact with him, the witness added.

Mr Clancy previously said he had no income since 2007, his Clanview Construction Business was just about gone and he had tried in earnest to comply with the court orders but had problems obtaining documents.

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