MacAnthony in court to answer charges

Darragh MacAnthony appeard in court today
Darragh MacAnthony

Darragh MacAnthony, 36, has appeared in court in Marbella to explain what happened to money paid by customers of his overseas property company, MRI, for furniture packs that were never delivered.

MacAnthony is accused of accepting payments from MRI customers for furniture packages which the claimants say they didn’t receive.

Speaking in court yesterday the football chairman claimed the money was paid to furniture companies in Bulgaria and Turkey and that they are the ones who have failed to deliver. He added that he had paid money back to some clients out of his own pocket.

When asked about the company he claimed that MRI was legally wound up in 2010. However, Antonio Flores, from law firm Lawbird acting for the plaintiffs, said that Companies House shows it is still trading, and furthermore accounts for years 2009 and 2010 were submitted just one month ago, on March 29th, according to the registry.

Also in the dock, former MRI chief executive, Dominic Pickering said he was not a director of the company but was there to “sort out furniture problems” following MacAnthony’s departure from Spain in 2010. Pickering claimed he was paid up to €20,000 per month to deal with the problems which he said were “sorted in 99.9% of cases.” He also backed up MacAnthony’s claim that the money had in fact been paid to the furniture companies.

Fernando de Arespacochaga, 91, became the frontman of MRI following MacAnthony’s departure. He said he had been paid €600 per month by the MacAnthony’s to front the company. He claimed his nephew had convinced him to sign and he had done so “in good faith”. He added that he, and his company, are insolvent.

Over 40 plaintiffs are claiming over 600,000 has been paid to MRI to furnish properties they had also purchased through the company.

Darragh left court refusing to comment.

MacAnthony does have a case to answer

MacAnthony Case
A small group of protesters outside court

Yesterday, 51 British expats, from England and the Republic of Ireland, attended a Marbella court at the request of the judge to ratify their lawsuit against Darragh MacAnthony.

The football chairman and his former chief executives Michael Liggan and Dominic Pickering, are accused of “theft by swindle and misappropriation of funds” amounting to 600,000€.

The claimants say they gave various amounts of money over to MRI Overseas for furniture packages for properties purchased through MacAnthony’s business but the furniture failed to appear.

The Spanish judge has considered the facts and decided that the three men accused do have a case to answer.

There was a small protest outside the court in which around 40 former MRI clients who had been affected by the case held placards and demanded action against the millionaire businessman.

In 2008, as a result of the many complaints against MRI, a tribunal was held by the National Federation of Property Professionals who were said to be “appalled to hear of the company’s misleading business practices”.  The tribunal resulted in fines of £5,000 and Darragh MacAnthony was forced to withdraw his membership of the Federation.

There must be days in Darragh’s life when he wishes he’d played it straight and by the book. How much easier his life would be today.