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Hard times after stealing $30 million


Tony Best

Hard times after stealing $30 million

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An Irish businessman who owned a luxury apartment in Barbados and lived an opulent lifestyle may have to accept more spartan housing for the next several years.

That can happen on October 8 in a Dublin, Ireland criminal court where the justice system is expected to order Breifne O’Brien, 52, to prison following his recent guilty plea to 14 sample counts of deception and theft that involved stealing about $30 million from investors and friends and spending much of the money on himself and his family in Barbados, Ireland and elsewhere.

But as O’Brien was pondering his fate and reminiscing about happier days in Barbados, Dublin and other places, his lawyer, Patrick McGrath, was telling the court that the man, a member of Ireland’s high-flying social circles displaying the symbols of success and wealth, was now destitute, living on less than 200 euros a week and paying a heavy price for his misdeeds.

As the attorney outlined it, his client had already come to terms with the very real prospect of going to prison and when he regained his freedom he would face a “difficult future.” In essence, McGrath pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy by taking into account O’Brien’s guilty plea and that the charges were his first brushes with the law. Just as important, he had cooperated with prosecutors by providing them with valuable information and was genuinely remorseful.

The lawyer aso said that O’Brien’s wife had divorced him, he had little contact with his children, and hadn’t spoken to his elderly father for six years.

However, his mother continues to show her support, so much so the woman in her 80s turned up in court.

The crux of the prosecution’s case was that he had engaged in a classic “Ponzi” scheme, taking money from one group of investors to pay off others while using some of their funds to finance a lifestyle he otherwise couldn’t afford.

In O’Brien’s case, said Luan O Brownian, the prosecutor, he had misled the victims Pat Doyle, Evan Newall, Louis Dowley, Daniel Maher and Martin O’Brien – some of whom were long-standing friends from college days – into believing he was using their funds for genuine investments which would bring them handsome financial returns.

The court heard that some of the funds were spent on an apartment in Barbados; to extend his home in Glenageary in Ireland; buy his wife a car; and partly to pay back some of his early investors.

 

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