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Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor, Irish Independent – 20 January 2014
A BARRISTER who suffered heavy losses during the property crash has been hit with tax debts of more than €700,000.
Michael Stimpson, who last week had four separate judgments registered against him by the Collector General, is among an increasing number of legal professionals -- including judges, barristers and solicitors -- who are struggling to repay debts arising out of failed property investments.
Many judges, Senior Counsel and solicitors borrowed massive sums from banks to invest in syndicated, leveraged property funds and saw those investments wiped out during the global credit crunch.
Lawyers also featured heavily in a list of "politically exposed" borrowers (PEPs) compiled by the former Anglo Irish Bank, whose surprise liquidation last year has led to the sale of some €22bn worth of loans.
Increasing numbers of professionals including lawyers, stockbrokers, accountants and engineers are seeking deals with their creditors to avoid bankruptcy and formal arrangements under the new Personal Insolvency Act amid fears publicity about their difficulties could adversely affect their earning capacity and future career prospects.
Mr Stimpson, an expert in arbitration and commercial law -- including construction law -- told the Irish Independent that he had "lost a lot" in the property crash but had hoped to trade his way out of his difficulties.
"There is nothing really more I can say," said Mr Stimpson, who is a former director of Friary Law, the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and training company.
Mr Stimpson is one of a number of legal professionals with debts registered against them in the forthcoming edition of 'Stubbs Gazette'.
Michael Curneen, a solicitor with an address at Marlfield Gardens, Cabinteely, Dublin 18, also had a €60,744 debt registered against him by the Collector General.
The highest debt registered by the Collector General, almost €2m, was registered against Noel Treanor, a farmer and wholesale confectioner from Rathduff, Hackballscross, in north Louth.
Last week Finance Minister Michael Noonan said a list of high-profile borrowers from Anglo Irish Bank had been drawn up to "avoid preferential treatment" being shown.
Rugby players, RTE stars, musicians, judges and some of the country's senior legal professionals were among the people placed on a list of "sensitive" borrowers compiled by the former Anglo Irish Bank, as revealed by the Irish Independent.
Mr Noonan said the lists of "politically exposed" investors and borrowers were made to comply with a requirement of the Criminal Justice Act 2010.