THE LEGAL eagle at the centre of a high profile court case – featuring allegations that Nolan Transport was defrauded of €7m – has had trouble before. Goldhawk can reveal that Ciaran Desmond had his practising certificate withdrawn by the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board (CARB) in 2016.
Desmond was previously solicitor to Nolan Transport, Ireland’s biggest trucking company and the Nolan family are claiming that funds of theirs ended up being used as security for a $100m loan, designed to make a “secret profit” for Desmond (then a partner in Maguire Desmond Solicitors) and a financial adviser named John Millett. Both defendants deny any wrongdoing, with Desmond claiming to be entitled to indemnity from third parties if the Nolans win their High Court case.
In relation to any involvement with the Nolans, it is not clear if Desmond was acting only as a solicitor or also as a accountant/financial adviser and when Goldhawk inquired about his role, Desmond refused to comment.
Separately, Desmond has been a director of a number of companies, many of which were liquidated. For example, a company called Vocalcom Ltd, which was wound up in 2013. It owned two businesses, one of which operated in the telecommunications sector, Vocalcom, while the other was a vending machine supplier called Lighthouse Vending. According to the accounts for the year ended August 2011, Vocalcom had accumulated losses of over €1.5m at that stage. (A previous director here had been Lar Bradshaw, who resigned in 2008).
In August 2011, the bank was owed €900,000 by Vocalcom, secured by personal guarantees of the shareholders of the parent company, YQ International Holdings Ltd, which has also since been liquidated. The shareholders here included two companies, Cirico Ltd and Stidel Nominees Ltd, and three individuals Michael Kenneally and Bryan Cahill from Ballintemple Cork, and Anthony Scanlan from Bandon. Cirico is owned by Siobhan Moran from Thurles Co. Tipperary while Stidel is owned by Lorcan Tiernan of Sandymount, Dublin 4.
One Desmond company that is still in operation is McGuire Desmond Financial Services Ltd (MDFS). It was setup in 2007 by Desmond, Millet and Desmond’s former legal partner, Colm McGuire, although New York-based lawyer Stephen D. Ryan III now owns MDFS.
Another Desmond company called Desmond Tax & Corporate Services Ltd, recorded a loss of €400,000 in the year to March 31, 2018. Creditors were owed almost U1m at the end of the financial year. The shareholders here are Desmond, Evelyn Breen of Cork and Maria O’Brien, also from Cork, as well as three companies – Cill Chuile Ltd, Rocamar Ltd and the dissolved Bourarna Ltd. Cill Chuile is owned by Ciaran Desmond and his wife Fionnula Desmond. Rocamar is owned by Derval O’Halloran from Rochestown, Cork, while Colm McGuire and his wife Sarah owned Bourarna.
According to the CARB ruling of October 3, 2016, an order was made to “withdraw the Practising Certificate and Insolvency Practising Certificate of Mr Ciaran Desmond of the firm Desmond Tax & Corporate Services Ltd, Penrose Wharf, Cork for failing to provide information required by the Committee, including evidence of professional indemnity insurance.”