Belfast Telegraph

'Broke' developer failed to declare £2m holiday villa

By Dearbhail McDonald and Gerard Couzens

Property developer Tom McFeely has a secret villa in the Algarve in Portugal, it has been revealed.

The Dungiven man, who is a former IRA hunger striker, is at the centre of a storm over the Priory Row apartment complex development in Dublin and did not declare the “millionaire row” property as part of his UK bankruptcy.

It is up for sale with a £2m price tag.

Last night McFeely’s UK bankruptcy bid was overturned for a second time by a judge in London — paving the way for him to be bankrupted in the Republic.

He now faces the prospect of 12 years of having his finances supervised by the courts, in contrast to just 12 months in the UK.

McFeely, who left residents of Priory Row stranded after it was shut down over fire safety concerns, is trying to sell his villa in upmarket Quinta do Lago for at least £2m.

McFeely did not declare the villa as part of his UK bankruptcy bids and insists that he does not own any foreign properties.

But Portuguese title deeds show that McFeely and his American-born wife Nina Lynn Kessler bought the “monster villa”, mortgage free, in 2007 and each have a 50% interest in the home.

Two years later the couple took out a €2.4m (£1.92m) loan on the property, as McFeely’s construction empire unravelled.

The three-storey, six-bedroomed villa sports an indoor squash court and swimming pool.

But the stripped out, abandoned villa is now lying in ruins.

The £2m price tag for the villa is “non-negotiable” and the tax authorities in Portugal have put a claim on the property for non-payment of rates totalling £7,200.

Even if the villa is sold, Irish creditors of the former leading republican will lose out as most of the proceeds will be used to pay off the mortgage. McFeely’s villa is in a poor state of repair and all fittings, including the original ornate staircase, have been removed.

Local contractors estimate that it could cost more than £180,000 to make the villa habitable again.

In a statement of affairs filed in the UK courts, McFeely lists a number of properties that he owns — but denies owning any overseas properties.

McFeely did not respond to media queries to confirm whether he had transferred any overseas properties to offshore companies or trusts.

The developer claims to pay rent on an apartment block in the UK that he developed to an

Isle of Man registered entity.

Last January he applied for bankruptcy in the UK, where borrowers can emerge debt-free within a year compared to up to 12 years in Ireland.

In court papers lodged in London, McFeely says he owes the Revenue Commissioners more than £400,000 — but has less than £4,800 in hard cash to pay his creditors back.

The ex-republican says he has only:

  • £1,000 in cash.
  • £600 in an AIB bank account in London.
  • £3,000 in an RBS bank account in Birmingham.
  • £300 in a Halifax bank account in Edinburgh.
  • No pension.
  • No car.
  • No savings.

British court officials wanted to reinstate him as a bankrupt because they believe he committed certain offences under United Kingdom bankruptcy laws.

It is understood that court officials are examining whether McFeely continued to receive rents from properties in the UK when he was protected from his creditors before his bankruptcy was rescinded.

The bankruptcy order was rescinded because McFeely did not disclose that he was already involved in bankruptcy litigation in Ireland, and it was rejected for a second time yesterday.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph