Hotelier Mansfield dodges blame for collapse of empire

HOTELIER Jim Mansfield has denied walking away from creditors left owed millions after the collapse of his hotel, convention centre and golf course empire.

The 70-year-old businessman admitted he had protected himself from personal liability for the €192 million owed to banks, suppliers and employees by routing his businesses through off-shore companies in the Isle of Man.

But he said he believed his extensive Citywest complex was still viable and he hoped to be able to come up with funds to settle debts with many of the more than 400 individuals and companies owned money.

“There probably won’t be enough money for the bank but we hope from other sources to be able to pay the local people we owe,” he told a Sunday newspaper. “I would know most of the people that would be involved in the thing and I would be very sorry for them.”

However, he also claimed he had suffered as much as anyone as he had sunk around €12 million of his personal money into his ventures. “I’ve walked away worse than they did. I put every shilling into building that convention centre without bank money at the time.”

Mr Mansfield, whose three sons are also involved in his businesses, did not reveal how he hoped to find the money to repay his companies’ debts. A receiver was appointed to his businesses last summer after Bank of Scotland came looking for €140 million it is owed and he accepted voluntary liquidation late last week.

He criticised the banks for failing to extend loan facilities to him and when asked who he blamed for the collapse of his own business and the economy in general, he took no personal responsibility.

“The banks, the Financial Regulator, the Government and the civil service”, were to blame, he said.

Mr Mansfield is suffering from the degenerative neurological condition, MSA (multiple system atrophy) and has been too unwell to attend court proceedings in relation to his financial difficulties.

But he remained positive about the outlook for his businesses. “This will sort itself out. We have to be patient sometimes,” he said.

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