The punishment:

We may not buy the factory, we have a huge bill if we want to take our business home and we must now pay a yearly rent that is 30% of the sale price agreed prior to coming to Ireland!

So we now have an Invoice from IDA for rent. We cannot buy the factory and we have to pay rent.

On the 8th of May we received confirmation from AIB that the loan required for the purchase of the factory and to replace our overdraft facility and my personal guarantee had been approved and we informed Forbairt that we wished to proceed with the purchase.

Forbairt then informed us that in the event of the deal with MBI going ahead the Factory would not be sold to the company

By this stage we did not trust the State agencies any more and the experience of the past 3 months had transformed our attitude to the project. In January we were realising the IDA incentive that brought us to Ireland giving us a secure project with a bright future. We were building a house and moving our kids to Ireland.  

1996-04-30IDA Now You Can Pay Rent
AIB Approve the loan
to buy the Factory.

This situation was now transformed and we were now at a point where we were prepared to relinquish control of the project in return for our freedom. The deal with MBI would release me from my personal guarantee to AIB which now hung over our family like the sword of Damocles. Gauselmann would get their prepaid tables, the staff and creditors would be secure and most importantly my family would be secure and reunited. 

This bombshell of a letter is an interesting on a number of levels. Mr. O’Connor criticizes the past performance of the company though he has, at this point, received no information on the company of any kind from us. There is no mention of the fact that he had been quite prepared to sell our factory to Forbairt’s associates in Ballyfermot. 

He proposes to extend the "rent free" period for a further year. This would have the effect of increasing our liabilities to IDA by IRP 22,000. If it is the case that we were being used as a means to embezzle EU funds it would allow IDA to embezzle a further IRP 16500. If this was a criminal fraud then the total amount embezzled from EU funds was starting to add up to a tidy sum. 

The Irish State agencies had long since reneged on everything they had told us prior to coming to Ireland. They were now reneging on the agreements they had forced upon us after we were in Ireland. Whatever about motivation this was a breach of contract pure and simple. No matter what was put on the table we were not getting the building. Mr. O’Connor and his colleagues in IDA were fully aware of our family situation and the effect this abuse would have on us. I believe this says a great deal about the true nature of these organizations and the type of people they employ.

1996-05-16 Another year "Rent Free

A Fabulous Order

We had ongoing conversations with Gauselmann about the situation and they endeavored to help by giving us a fabulous order in an effort to resolve matters. I informed Forbairt and they insinuated that I was lying.
This was an order from a company with a 864,000,000DM turnover in 1995. Such companies do not produce fake orders.


In the end Gauselmann endeavoured to help by giving us a fabulous order in an effort to resolve matters. I informed Forbairt and they insinuated that I was lying. This was an order from a company with a 864,000,000DM turnover in 1995. Such companies do not produce fake orders.

Needless to say Forbairt did not commit “going to a senior Politian behind my back was a big mistake now Paul and that factory will be sold to nobody.” to paper. Instead we got the letter on the right. The reader should note that the 22nd was a Wednesday. He was well aware that the auditor had made a dogs dinner of our accounts. He also clearly feels that MBI would be better at making billiard tables than we were. 

So we were incompetent! This from a man who had agreed to sell the Factory to the Mentor on the basis of a report prepared by the Mentor! This from a man who when confronted with the reality of this predatory “Mentor” told us that he “could not interfere in a dispute between directors.” This from a man who when he took over responsibility for our company made no effort to find out anything about what had gone on before. This from a man who only got into the paperwork when he needed to find a way to teach us a lesson. 

We were furious and I asked him to tell us how much we owed them. We needed to find a way out of this trap.

Forbairt replied by telling us that we now owed IDA IRP 121,758.

We now owe IDA IRP 121,758


Success amidst the Ruins

It was ironic that had we come to Ireland 1992 and had not had anything to do with IDA and simply bought a factory freehold there would now be no problem. It is a sad fact that while the IDA/Forbairt/Enterprise Ireland/FAS gravy train is set up to help companies it is in fact a very dangerous counterproductive minefield.

The trends in the business were clear as the installation graph shows. This graph only shows tables installed by Willie Holt Belgium and does not take into account tables installed by Gauselmann personal or those installed in Austria and elsewhere. The installation rate gives a far better feel for market trends than sales to Gauselmann as Gauselmann stock levels fluctuated a great deal over the period. The graph clearly shows the dwindling snooker table sales and the spectacular rise in sales of our new products.

The reader will note that in this month of May 1996, while IDA/Forbairt were putting us through the mangle, we installed more than 50 tables in Germany. Also around this time the Mantis was approved by the German Pool Association DBU for tournament play in Germany.

Tables installed by Willie Holt (Belgium) BVBA
1996 Billiard News Advertising Gauselmann

We now got written confirmation from Gauselmann of the order. This was for 750 tables to be delivered over the coming 18 months. The value of the order was 3,000,000DM. This was and I believe still is the biggest order for tournament quality billiard tables ever achieved in Europe.

1996-05-30 ADP Order For 3,000,000DM
Gauselmann 1994-1995 Turnover

Forbairt putting the boot in?

Forbairt had requested accounts and our new accountant Mr. Niall Sheehan produced management accounts and sent these to Forbairt.

Forbairt call Mr. Sheehan’s figures into question.

On the 18th of July Mr. Sheehan had a meeting with Forbairt in Cork attended by Mr. Tomas Jones and Mr. Mort O'Connor to discuss these accounts. At that meeting, Mr. O'Connor called Mr. Sheehan’s figures into question. After the meeting Mr. Sheehan was very distressed and annoyed. 

Forbairt insist that the Directors repay the Investment in Ecommerce technology to the Company.

They did however see from these accounts that we had invested 30k in the ecommerce system. They said that this constituted the withdrawal of the subordinated loan of 30k punts so they now had a legitimate excuse not to sell us the building. I later informed them that I would only put the software in as a subsidiary of Holts if we got an indemnity against any further actions by Forbairt’s associates in Ballyfermot against our company. We were determined that, whatever about Holts, the ecommerce scripts would not fall into the hands of Forbairt’s friends. We felt sure that Ballyfermot was being briefed on an ongoing basis. 

(The reader should note that these events occurred in 1996 and not many people were aware of the potential commercial importance of the Internet. Forbairt viewed this project with sneering contempt. Their attitude was that it was a waste of company resources and proof that the company's management was irresponsible.) 

Forbairt Request Audited accounts

Mr. O’Connor requested audited accounts while fully aware that we could not provide these due to the fact that our auditor had done an incompetent audit. In asking for something he knew we could not supply, through no fault of ours, I believe Mr. O’Connor is revealing his real agenda.

Forbairt want to meet our customers!!!!

Mr. O’Connor also makes the outrageous demand that we arrange a meeting between him and our customer Gauselmann. This I think gives a good insight into the level of arrogance that is the norm within these incompetent agencies. We did consider arranging a meeting and indeed discussed it with Gauselmann. In the end we decided against it as we feared that if Gauselmann met Mr. O’Connor he would convince them of the necessity of getting the company out of Ireland as quickly as possible. 

The letter on above right is, I believe, one that should be read by anyone considering getting involved with these people.

1996-07-23 Forbairt Demands

Please take the time to answer our Poll on the right hand side of this page and if you have any comments use the “comments” link at the bottom of this page.

Previous ~ Willie Holt Index ~ Next