Shee owned Nursing Homes, in Limerick, lived a Lavish Lifestyle; now, the Social Landscape, has Changed Utterly? Where is this Case at present?

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Bankrupt… so what has happened to John Shee’s assets?

March 7, 2021

Nama developer John Shee photographed in Nice, France when the Irish Mail on Sunday tracked him down in 2015. Photo by Sean Dwyer.

ON-THE-RUN developer John Shee declared himself bankrupt this week after returning from self-imposed exile in France.

But Mr Shee, who was hiding from creditors in a luxury Nice home for years, had previously transferred properties and other assets worth millions to his wife, Mary.

Mrs Shee – who remains solvent and has not gone bankrupt – is a prominent Limerick personality and a sister of renowned Limerick actor, director and playwright, Myles Breen.

Prior to the pandemic she had been dividing her time between Limerick and visits to her husband in his Riviera hideout – as she told gardaí she did not know of her husband’s whereabouts.

This led Judge Peter Kelly to comment at a court hearing on the matter that there appeared to be ‘a kind of conspiracy of silence’ concerning Mr Shee’s whereabouts.

John Shee first absconded in 2014 after creditors, including a number of banks and Nama, had been seeking unpaid debts worth tens of millions for years.

The debts related to failed boomtime property gambles.

Prior to going on the run, Mr Shee transferred the family home – Lishee, South Circular Road, Limerick – and a Ballsbridge apartment to his wife in 2009.

Mr Shee’s share of other real estate properties, jointly owned by Mr Shee and his business partners, were also transferred to Mary.

Separately from his failing property empire, Mr Shee was also part owner of nursing home group Mowlam Healthcare – a profitable firm that grew to become the largest provider in the country before being sold last year for €50m.

Part of the Irish Mail on Sunday’s coverage when we tracked John Shee to France in 2015.

In 2011, as his creditors sought repayment for his unpaid property debts, Mr Shee transferred his stake of Mowlam to his wife. At the time the firm was generating an income of €35m annually.

After Mr Shee absconded in the wake of a €24m judgment against him, the accounts of his nursing home firm were moved offshore as part of a scheme designed to give millions to his wife and children.

The scheme, involving a web of firms controlled from the British Virgin Islands, guaranteed a share of the first €2m paid out in dividends from Mowlam Healthcare each year, would go to Mrs Shee.

A share of the remainder of any dividends was then to be divided among the couple’s children.

  • The scheme also saw Mowlam re-registered as a private company, meaning its accounts could be kept secret even though it was largely funded by the taxpayer through the Fair Deal nursing homes support scheme.

After Mr Shee left Ireland, the Irish Mail on Sunday tracked him down to Nice where he was living in a first-floor apartment on the sought-after Boulevard Victor Hugo, which overlooks a garden of palm trees adjacent to the renowned five-star Boscolo Exedra Hotel. Local council records confirmed that the apartment, estimated to be worth in the region of €500,000, is owned by John and Mary Shee.

After he absconded from Ireland the Irish Mail on Sunday tracked John Shee to this apartment block in downtown Nice.

The home is a short walk from Nice’s famous beach and old town with its many tourist attractions.

When approached in France by the Irish Mail on Sunday in 2015 Mr Shee said he had transferred his assets to his wife Mary as he was ill with cancer and ‘feared the worst’. ‘Despite the way it looks,’ he said, ‘I’m living a modest lifestyle and will probably have to bankrupt in due course.’

He also said: ‘I do intend to come back when I’m fully recovered.’

One of Mr Shee’s central concerns at the time – apart from the implications of the MoS story for his wife – was that the precise number of his apartment not be disclosed as this would lead to people seeking to serve summons on him.

‘This is not my wife’s fault. She was never involved in my business and never borrowed money. She feels she is being treated unfairly because she had no hand, act or part in my affairs.’

Now, six years later and partly due to the pandemic, he has returned to Ireland, declaring bankruptcy on February 22 and listing his address as the family home in Limerick.

‘Mr Shee wishes to correct his error,’ barrister Donnchadh Woulfe told Judge David Barniville at a brief Commercial Court hearing prior to Mr Shee’s arrival in Ireland. The court heard that because of Covid-19 and his extreme ill health, Mr Shee wanted to come home ‘to face the music’ and had prepared a draft statement of affairs – something he’d first promised to provide to the court prior to going on the run.

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