Firm must repay €250k to Commission

A COUNTY Waterford engineering firm that has been placed in liquidation has been ordered to repay about €250,000 to the European Commission over its failure to fulfil a contract to build wind turbines.

The European Court of Justice ruled that Irish Electricity Generating (IEG) based in Kilmeaden must pay back €180,665 plus interest to the Commission.

The company won a contract to oversee the design and erection of two 750 kilowatt wind turbines in 1998, which would be up to 40% funded by the EU.

IEG was paid €225,084 by the Commission between 1998 and 2001.

The firm claimed the project was delayed due to difficulties encountered in finding a suitable site and obtaining planning permission for the erection of the turbines.

When IEG finally obtained permission at its third location of choice, it said it would need to build four turbines to make the project economically viable.

In 2003, the European Commission sought the return of €180,665 which it had overpaid to the firm. It also discovered that IEG had not transferred any of the payment to sub-contractors who were due to build the actual turbines and had spent the money on “cash flow”.

IEG directors Finbarr and Catherine Tymon admitted that the company was not in a position to reimburse the Commission.

A proposal by the company under which more capital would be injected into IEG to allow it to complete the project was firmly rejected by Brussels.

IEG did not submit any defence to the case brought by the Commission to the European Court of Justice.

Yesterday the Court ruled that IEG must repay the overpayment of €180,665 plus late-interest payment at the rate of 5.56% per annum. It is estimated that the interest owed has risen to about €70,000 to date and will increase by approximately €28 per day until the debt is settled.

IEG was also ordered to pay the legal costs of the hearing.

Mr Tymon, 59, was the founder of the original company to manufacture Tipperary Crystal, which was dissolved in 2001.

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