Former Ireland rugby international Ronan O’Gara accused a former business partner of “fleecing the hell out” of him by taking money from the pub they were both shareholders in.
The comment was made during an exchange of text messages with John O’Driscoll, a former teammate of O’Gara at UCC and Cork Constitutional.
Details of the exchange, which took place in March last year, emerged in documents filed with the High Court, in which O’Gara alleges O’Driscoll got €15,725 from her pub business, The Silly Goose, on Washington Street in Cork away.
The former Munster star, now manager of French rugby team La Rochelle, filed an affidavit in support of a challenge to a Personal Insolvency Scheme (PIA) granted to O’Driscoll, of Ovens, Co Cork.
In the affidavit, he also claimed O’Driscoll had been throwing parties at the pub during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Allow time for O’Driscoll’s liquidator to respond to the application.
O’Gara filed the affidavit in his capacity as a shareholder of Ezeon Entertainment Ltd, the company that operated the pub. The company is now a creditor of O’Driscoll.
According to the legal filing, O’Driscoll approached O’Gara with the idea of opening the pub in 2006.
They were friends from their playing days and O’Gara said he suspected he was being addressed as “name” for advertising and PR reasons.
Real estate developer Michael O’Flynn, whom O’Gara knew, was also approached to fund the venture. The trio became equal shareholders in the company.
O’Gara said neither he nor O’Flynn had any experience in the industry and that running the pub business had been left to O’Driscoll.
“We trusted him with that and trusted him to act honestly,” O’Gara said.
According to O’Gara, at a September 2020 shareholder meeting, O’Driscoll admitted to him, O’Flynn and accountant Gerry Sheehan that a sum of €15,725 was raised “in breach of trust and without authorization and embezzlement from the company”. .
He said O’Driscoll undertook to pay back the money but never did.
O’Gara said he was “excited and deeply upset” by what happened. He had poured €20,000 into the company in 2019 after being asked for funds “to keep the business going”.
The former rugby international said he was not informed of O’Driscoll’s personal bankruptcy arrangement, which has written off various debts.
He said Ezeon was controlled by O’Driscoll when a court approved the PIA last July.
O’Gara said he was unaware of the agreement and did not support it.
According to O’Gara, he texted O’Driscoll in March 2021 asking if the money had been returned to the company.
In the exchange of texts presented to the court, O’Gara said, “Even the 15,000 you took out went back in? I shouldn’t be the one paying for this and you shouldn’t?”
The exchange is to show O’Driscoll that the money was not returned.
“The company owes this money. Not in your name,” O’Driscoll reportedly wrote.
O’Gara said, “I put money in and you took it out? As simple as that.”
O’Driscoll reportedly responded that he “put money in it too” and “never took a salary.”
Later in the exchange, O’Gara said, “You bloody fleeced me.”
The exchange purports to show that O’Driscoll asked for a “get together” to discuss the matter.
“Rog, I’m in a deep hole,” O’Driscoll reportedly said.
The challenge by Ezeon, represented by Martin Hayden SC with Keith Farry BL, mandated by Ogier Leman Solicitors, has been adjourned to a January date.
It is rejected by O’Driscoll.
Mr Hayden told Mr Justice Alexander Owens there had been “fraudulent removal of funds and use of assets that had not been accounted for”.
He also said there were issues with O’Driscoll’s secrecy from Ezeon and claimed the PIA was “proven on a fraudulent basis.”
Mr Justice Owens said the court “would take a serious view on bankruptcy or anything like that if people were seriously misled”.
O’Flynn, who also supports Ezeon’s application, had previously attempted to shelve the PIA earlier this year.
However, he was prevented from doing so as he had taken no steps to prove his guilt. He claims to be owed at least €950,000 by O’Driscoll.
Bernard Dunleavy SC, on behalf of O’Driscoll’s personal liquidator, said his side wanted time to complete an affidavit.
He said O’Flynn could not be allowed to direct a version of Lanigan’s ball where “he gets in and gets out”.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/rugby-great-ronan-ogara-accuses-former-business-partner-of-fing-fleecing-him-42214542.html Rugby star Ronan O’Gara has accused the former business partner of ‘fleecing the fuck’ on him