Couple released from bankruptcy

Published Thursday, 08 November 2012
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A Co Derry husband and wife whose multi-million pound property business collapsed were released from bankruptcy on Thursday.

Couple released from bankruptcy
The couple were released from bankruptcy on Thursday. (© Getty)

An order confirming the discharge of Sean and Mary McWilliams was made at the High Court in Belfast after all outstanding financial issues were resolved.

With the Official Receiver having abandoned a challenge to their bankruptcy status being lifted, it also brings an end to allegations of non-cooperation.

The couple, from Swatragh, once oversaw major property dealing and development in Ireland and the south of France.

At its peak their firm had an estimated annual turnover of €200m.

Mr and Mrs McWilliams said it had been harrowing to lose control of a business built up over 15 years.

In a statement, they said: "After 17 months of detailed scrutiny and investigation we have complied with all of our statutory obligations under the bankruptcy legislation and met all our duties of openness and transparency.

"As a consequence of the Official Receiver/Trustee not proceeding with their appeal it is clear that the allegations of non-co-operation against us are without substance.

"As acknowledged in court this morning the suggestion that we had hidden assets from creditors is completely without foundation or merit and despite being subject to a detailed and at times humiliating investigation our integrity and honesty has been vindicated."

The couple were adjudicated bankrupt in June 2011.

Under insolvency rules they had a right to an automatic discharge after 12 months.

In June this year a High Court Master threw out an attempt by the Official Receiver to block the couple's release from bankruptcy, describing the case as without merit.

The discharge was put on hold pending a planned appeal of that ruling.

But the case was finally resolved on Thursday when it was confirmed that the challenge has been withdrawn.

Mr and Mrs McWilliams later claimed: "We believe the behaviour of those seeking to deny us our legal rights was motivated by considerations far removed from the circumstances of our case and in doing so had the potential to undermine the integrity of the legal framework.

"Obviously we are relieved that the Official Receiver/Trustee now fully accepts we conducted ourselves properly."

Their statement added: "Given the criticisms against them in the original judgement and clear lack of evidence it is difficult to comprehend why the Official Receiver/Trustee refused to accept the original decision of the Court, and sought to drag us through further proceedings.

"Those questions are for others to pose, we are just glad to have come through the process fully exonerated and can now look forward to rebuilding our lives."

© UTV News
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