Anglo lent millions to Galway businessmen for New York properties

An investigation into the loan dealings of Anglo Irish Bank during the height of the boom has revealed that hundreds of millions of dollars was provided to some of Ireland’s wealthiest people, including Galway businessmen, to buy luxury apartments in New York.

According to a report in a national paper yesterday an examination of loans issued by the bank over three years ago revealed that potentially hundreds of millions was lent to well-known business men in order to snap up exclusive properties in Manhattan and other upmarket areas of New York. However, some borrowers have been hit by slumping prices since the economic downturn.

Galway names mentioned in the bank’s loan documents include Michael Burke of Burkeway Construction. The report reveals that Mr Burke and members of his family were advanced a loan worth €1.3 million for an apartment on Broad Street. Mr Burke is involved in building small but high-end developments in Dublin suburbs such as Foxrock as well as larger developments in areas such as Sandyford.

Another well-known name mentioned was the now deceased property developer John O’Dolan. The documents show that he also borrowed millions for properties in exclusive areas of New York. Mr O’Dolan died in tragic circumstances in February 2008. An inquest that followed revealed that Mr O’Dolan had been suffering from severe depression and stress in the days leading up to his death. The 51-year-old had extensive business interests both at home and abroad, and was famous for buying up large tracts of land in Dubai, including the island of Ireland, a development which has since collapsed. Mr O’Dolan had founded the auctioneering company Mullery, O’Dolan, and Doyle in the early eighties before going on to establish O’Dolan International.

Galway based hotel and oil entrepreneur John Joseph Sweeney was also named as a customer of Anglo Irish Bank for the purchasing of New York properties. The 49-year-old, said to be one of the country’s richest businessmen, ran into difficulties recently when his oil distibution business went into examinership. The company was saved by fuel distribution company Tedcastles by a €12 million cash injection. Mr Sweeney is also involved in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin and has interests which include the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Galway, the Station Hotel in Clifden, and the Marriott Johnstown House hotel in Enfield, Meath.

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