Financial adviser and television personality Eddie Hobbs has said he is “deeply saddened” for investors who lost almost €13m in a firm he fronted, writes Pádraig Hoare.
However, he says that he “always acted with integrity” while involved with the company.
The Cork native was the public face of Brendan Investments Pan European Property, which saw €13m raised by hundreds of investors in 2007, only for all the cash to dwindle as the firm struggled with investments as far afield as Dusseldorf, Germany and Detroit, USA.
The firm went into liquidation earlier this year. It emerged at a public meeting for investors this week that a single house in Detroit, a bank account with €29,000, and a potential return of €53,000 in Vat is all that remains.
Investors in the company had to put up a minimum of €5,000 following a high- profile publicity drive fronted by Mr Hobbs in 2007.
Up to 800 people are thought to have invested, many of whom are elderly.
Mr Hobbs, Vincent Regan, Hugh O’Neill and Dermot Flanagan were behind the company. Mr Hobbs resigned as non-executive director in 2015.
Mr Hobbs said: “The outcome announced this year came as a shock to me and I’m deeply saddened by it for all investors. I too have questions I’d like to see answered through the liquidation process.”
He said annual accounts produced by PwC after he had retired give net assets of €5.25m, or “about 41% of opening equity”.
“Furthermore, at that time when I stepped down, the executive had outlined its plan to grow the assets over the remaining three years.
“When I stepped down the situation was stable but not catastrophic.”
Mr Hobbs said that he “always acted with integrity, participated in meetings and assisted in decisions on the basis of information presented to me at that time”, while in his position.
“I also challenged when appropriate and acted to assist the company from the position a of non-executive director in Brendan Investments Pan European Property.
So while my judgment, in hindsight, may be challenged, my integrity can not,” Mr Hobbs said.