Empowered by the order we sought a way out of the trap.

We now had an order worth 3 million DM in hand which was sufficient to maintain profitability at 10% of turnover until the end of 1997 and any further sales would, in this situation, increase profitability dramatically.
That said our overriding concern now was to get out of the IDA trap so that we could be reunited as a family in one country as soon as possible. We felt that we had been conned out of some of our most important years by organizations with no discernable ethical standards.

During the following year we struggled with conflicting emotions. On the one had we had a desire to fight them and protect our staff and stop this vandalism and on the other we had our duty to bring matters to a conclusion quickly for the sake of our children while insuring that our family got out of the trap in one piece. Enough was enough.

We now had three possible ways forward.

  1. Get IDA to honor its undertakings.
  2. Sell the company to another Billiard company overseas
  3. Sell the company in Ireland

1. Get IDA to honoring its undertakings.
Both Gauselmann and ourselves now concluded that IDA/Forbairt were corrupt dishonest and unreliable. We felt that their strategy was simply to con companies and financially entrap them. So we felt that there was little hope of a satisfactory outcome there. We did decide to continue to lobby both IDA and Forbairt and to lobby local politicians, trade organizations and so on in the hope of embarrassing them into some sense of honor.

2. Sell the company to another Billiard company overseas.
While we found this the most distasteful option it was in fact the easiest way to get out of the trap. The company would be very attractive to an overseas billiards company because of its brand its 3 million DM order book, its agency network and customer service network and its award winning designs. In Billiard tables, as with pianos, brand is exceptionally important. particularly when you can say "since 1898". In this case however a price would need to be achieved that would be sufficient to cover all liabilities and also pay IDA from the contingent liability IRP121,000 which Forbairt had told us we owed them. We decided to actively pursue this option and to lobby IDA/Forbairt to release us from the contingent liability to facilitate such a deal. Should we be able to achieve this then we could expect to retrieve our investment in the project.

3. Sell the company in Ireland.
There were two major advantages to this and these were:

  • The staff could keep their jobs. They could continue to use their hard learned skills to make beautiful world class products. Their skills would not be wasted by the wasters.
  • We would not need to pay IDA IRP121,000 which they had told us we owed them.

A major problem we had was that there were no other Billiard table manufactures in Ireland so we would be selling to people without the required skills. If the new owner knew nothing about billiard tables and if we no longer had control of the company we would also no longer have control of the quality of the tables produced. Gauselmann feared this also. Another disadvantage was the Irish cultural obsession with property. We would have no way of knowing if the new owner was really interested in manufacturing or simply interested in the building.

Ironically it was also a fact that from the company's point of view if an other Irish company took over then Gauselmann would no longer pay for tables in advance so there would be little benefit from a cash flow point of view. The company would lose the years of technical and market experience we had in billiards. The company would also lose the required language skills. We would no longer be prepared to have our Belgian company operate on a break even basis and so would also charge more for installations. We would also start charging for repairs under guarantee which would also eat into margins. Forbairt would have their wish but in the process the business would be hugely weakened.

"You can have another year rent free"

On the 28 of August I had a long telephone conversation with Mr. Sherry and he informed me that the building would not be sold to us but that we could have it rent free for a further year. So nothing new there. They had been offering us this for months. There was an improvement however there would be no increase in the contingent liability. One interpretation of this (if you accept "the Criminal Fraud Theory") is that they were generously offering only to embezzle the money once for that year! He also insists that we have to pay the contingent liability if we leave.
He requires that I put a deal together and then go to him hoping that he will approve it. The fact that he is destroying my ability to negotiate a way out does not bother him and in our opinion is intentional.
This is an important tape to listen to if you are considering becoming involved with these people.

1996 September: IDA Ireland ~ The Guillotine Blade Falls.

So that conversation occurred on the 28th of August and we then received a letter from the IDA legal department dated 2nd of September. We now had no rights at all. We no longer had any doubt as to who was pulling the strings. Our opinion is that it is the organization that had set up the fraud. The organization that was our landlord, in the worst Irish sense of that word. If there was a "fraud" then this is the organization that got the money each year from that fraud. This same organization that has systematically lied about its involvement ever since.

So after 4 months of the Irish State agencies telling us that we could not buy the building for this that and the other reason we are now told that we cannot buy it because we did not exercise the option on time.

They state that we failed to exercise the option by the 15th of April 1996. But we arrived in Ireland on the 12th of June 1992 and were given 4 years! So where did they get 15th of April 1996 date?
Anybody entering into agreements with IDA should note how they get out of them.

1996-09-02-IDA "You have no rights at all"

It was now almost 2 years since the Forbairt Technology Audit stated that we were to be congratulated on our performance and 4 months since IDA tried to sell the factory to Forbairt’s associates in Ballyfermot.

So this is the IDA that received the letter exercising the option dated the 17th of April. With Forbairt accepting the Mentors report as the required “development proposals/review,” (click here for the tape confirming this) this same IDA then instructed Mr. Tom Fox of Ronan Daly Jermyn, Solicitors to send the contract for the sale of our factory to Forbairt’s associates in Ballyfermot.

Now this very same IDA invent this dirty little document.

We were now to be crucified.

We felt that the steps in the process are clear:

  1. The very clever letter of offer designed to get us to Ireland
  2. The nasty contracts heavy on obligations and light on rights that we were forced to sign long after we were in Ireland and which, if you accept "the Criminal Fraud Theory", were designed to hide the fact that IDA were fraudulently earning money from our business.
  3. The company is completely financially entrapped, has no rights and (if you accept "the Criminal Fraud Theory") can be used as a means to embezzle EU funds on an ongoing basis.

1996 October. What is Going On?

1996-10 It makes no sense!

In the conversation on the mp3 on the right we tried to reason with Mr Sherry to no avail. This tape gives a good feel for our general state of puzzlement. In the end we say we are going to take legal action which does not bother him. When we looked at legal action we were informed that it would take about two years and cost a fortune. We simply could not afford it and we could not relocate the kids in this case so it would mean two more years of this situation. So we did nothing in the legal area.

1996 End October. The Factory price up 25%. Mr. Sherry offers to organize a BES for us!

At this point the factory is chucking along nicely and profits are good. As we are still in a trap my wife busies herself in Belgium finding out how much it will cost to get out of the trap. The DMark had fallen to .40 but we thought that this was temporary so we were confident that we could fight these people off.

Mr. Sherry calls to say he can organize a BES This would have the effect of bringing money into the company to fix his balance sheet problem and allow us to pay the extra money to IDA who were now demanding more for their building. I try to explain that the valuation makes no sense but he is unaffected. This is an interesting tape especially in the light of Ireland Ltd’s current balance sheet problems!

The Factory price up 25%.
But Mr. Sherry offers to organize a
BES for us!

I was trying to show Mr. Sherry that we had an out and trying to get them back to our original agreement. Unfortunately he does not seem to care about the jobs and this conversation probably made matters worse as you will hear from the next tape. At the end of this tape he says he will look into the BES story and get back. But he does not get back and when we try to contact him he does not return our calls.

Essentially they are jacking up the price and forcing us to bring in investors who would then, using the BES system, be able to avoid paying their taxes. So IDA would get more money and Forbairt’s associate's clients could use our company to avoid paying their taxes. Was this the real agenda?

1996 11th of December the Factory price still up 25% but Mr. Sherry has an Idea!

Mr. Sherry calls to say that the price is about 100k but that he can organize a 15k "feasibility study" for us to partially compensate for the 25% prise rise! So they would charge 27k more for the factory but give 15k back. Why? Well the 15k comes from the EU and the 25k goes to IDA. Is this another little criminal fraud?

The Factory price up 25%.
But Mr. Sherry has an Idea!

1997 January Mr. Sherry making our position impossible.

By January 1997 we still had not heard from Mr. Sherry and the DM had plunged to .38 and we had lost more than 35k of expected income as a result. Our earlier confidence that we could fight off IDA/Forbairt now seemed foolhardy. Also our earlier decision not to "book Punts on the order"

Mr. Sherry will not put a price on paper
Sets unknown conditions.

so as to leave the option of selling the order open had backfired badly. Mr. Sherry would not return our calls so I called Mr. Quinlan in Forbairt Cork and asked him to talk to Mr. Sherry. I had a meeting in Germany coming up where we would decide what to do and I needed to know my situation urgently.

Mr. Sherry was aware that this was a vital meeting in Germany to try to find a way forward but he at first refused to put a price on paper. He wanted to send us into the meeting with nothing on paper. That’s what these people are like to do business with. In the end after a heated phone call he faxed a new letter to our hotel in Germany. You will note that there is no mention of the fact that they now intended to attach more unspecified strings to the deal as he made clear in the phone call. So in fact we still knew nothing. We were to be held, as we had been since the Mentor story, in an impossible position.

1997-01-20 Forbairt Holt 1 No Price
1997-01-20 Forbairt Holt 2 No Price
1997-01-23-Forbairt-Holt Revised Letter 23 jan 97 Price IRP 100,000
1997-01-23-Forbairt-Holt Revised Letter 23 jan 97 Price IRP 100,000
1997-01-23-Forbairt-Holt Revised Letter 23 jan 97 Price IRP 100,000

1997 Febuary. Mr. Sherry had an investor for us!!

In the tape on the right we discuss the overall situation with Mr. Sherry yet again but he just did not get it and had other things on his mind.

Mr. Sherry had an investor for us!!

1997-02-11 Mr. Sherry has an investor for us!

This is a very interesting tape on a number of levels. The fact that we attempted to remain civil in our discussions with these people gave them a severe dose of brass neck. That they would now come with an investor after the Mentor story shows this quite clearly. What is so interesting about this story from a policy point of view is that we had two companies in Clonakilty. One a billiard table manufacturer and the other a company developing ecommerce scripts which had a number of applications including mail order. Our scripts would be familiar today to anybody who had shopped online and were capable of calculating delivery and handling EU VAT and North American sales tax. So Mr. Sherries clients had found gold in Clonakilty you would think. You would be wrong. They wanted to invest in the Billiard business!

This was not about innovation or industrial development it was about tax avoidance. Mr. Sherry had an associate who had a client who did not want to pay his taxes. Obviously if we facilitated this BES tax scam we would get the building and Mr Sherry and his associates would be as happy as Larry. Is it as simple as that?

If you consider the 1992 offer on the building a form of grant aid then this was "grant aid subject to BES".

How often has Irish Industrial grant aid been subject to a BES

How often has Irish Industrial grant aid been subject to a BES organized by Mr. Sherry? 

How often has the distribution of EU funds been subject to a BES?

Needless to say we did not want to meet any more of Forbairt’s friends.

February 1997 Liabilities visa vie IDA by July to be IRP 132,996


On the 20th of February 1997 we contacted Mr. Sherry to find out what our liabilities visa vie IDA would be at the end of July. We were still trying to put a deal together to get out of the trap. The liability have risen to IRP 132,996 by end July.

The reader will note from Mr. Sherry’s response that they always indicate a willingness to look for a solution on paper but as the tape recordings show this is not in fact the case. The trap remained in place.

April 1997 - Is this the reason? Are we a "nice little earner?"


We had now been entrapped and abused for a year and all the way through the nightmare we were trying to think of ways that the State Agencies may be vulnerable to attack.
Mr. Sherry and his colleagues enjoyed zero credibility with us by now and we held them solely responsible for the situation the company found itself in. The opportunity we had created had been wasted and a project that had been our life had been turned into our hell. Indeed we debated at length in-house as whether we here dealing with incompetent fools or corrupt weasels. Their arguments were not credible and their true motivation obscure.
We felt that our ability to provide a vehicle for tax avoidance was playing an important role, as was the Irish obsession with property.
It was also clear that they were spending EU funds on their Mentors and on their Accountants and we wondered what other EU funds may be involved.

We knew our factory building had cost a fortune to construct and was shoddily built so we suspected that EU funds may be involved in its construction. So on the 1st of April we wrote to Mr. Sherry again asking him how much EU funds were involved in our project and how much EU funds were involved in the original construction of the building.

On the right is his reply. We were shocked. For the first time we had a logical explanation for what had been going on. Mr. Sherry openly admits the amounts that they had been getting from EU funds thanks to our company.

We had made a lot of mistakes in our dealings with these people and we now made the biggest one of all. We made a call to an EU office in Brussels and talked to the people there. They told us that IDA/Forbairt were "not allowed" to use EU funds as an incentive to move employment from another EU country or in fact from any country.

So we now knew it was "not allowed." What we did not know was that it was a criminal fraud and that all we now needed to do was to go to OLAF and the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation (GBFI). Had we known that we could have saved our business. I beleive we now had these parasites where we wanted them but we did not realize it.

Missing this obvious opportunity bothers me to this day. I can only say that we were under a lot of pressure. The DM had plummeting and by now was down to .375. For the first time it looked like the IDA/Forbairt attack was going to really succeed in putting us out of business.

Mr. Sherry was also making a liar of an Irish Government Minister. On the 25th of April 1997 Minister Richard Bruton assured his fellow EU Ministers that such things did not happen.

Minister denies EU funds abuse

The Irish Times Reports

THE Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Mr Bruton, yesterday told fellow industry ministers that Ireland had never used EU structural funds to subsidise relocation of factories to Ireland.

That they chose to relocate, the Minister said, "reflected simply the attractive competitive environment offered by the country, most particularly its highly trained and flexible workforce. There was nothing wrong with such competition which was inevitable and quite natural in an increasingly globalised marketplace", he said.

On the second page of this letter Mr Sherry denies that they have done anything wrong.

  • Investing in ecommerce was a breach of our grant agreement.
  • We did not exercise the option on time.
  • Ballyfermot never happened.
  • And the “committee” that was not "The Board" was still a board.

Ending with the usual drivel. The fact that this is drivel is confirmed on the next tape.

1997-05-30 Forbairt Mr. Sherry

On the 30th of May 1997 I spoke again to Mr. Sherry. Click the mp3 on the right. The reader will note that what Mr. Sherry had said at the end of the last letter was indeed drivel. You will also note the way the “Board” system operates. They tell you that this and that needs to be approved by the all powerful “Board.” Essentially this goes "It is not my fault Paul, I am nice guy, but the "Board" will have to approve it and they will not approve it". They then sit down and call themselves this or that committee and decide what they are going to do to you. The whole “Board” story is just a game being played by these people. One wonders what the real "Board" actually does for their pay.

Notes on MP3 1997-05-30 Forbairt Mr. Sherry:

  • We thought there would be a break in production in the coming 3 months as we thought Gauselmann would delay a number of containers of tables due to high stock levels in Germany. In the end sales improved and this did not happen.
  • I stated on the tape that IDA had sent the contracts for the sale of the factory building to Ballyfermot subsequent to my warning Mr. O’Connor as to the nature of the Mentor. Further examination of our records has revealed that the contracts had already been sent by that stage.

August 1997 - More Money for IDA

Since the Mentor affair and IDA’s decision to renege on its undertakings our business plan was in tatters but there was perhaps also a problem for IDA. The reader will also note from the MP3 above that Mr. Sherry is now saying that we have to talk to IDA about the building but we still owe the total amount including, if you accept "the Criminal Fraud Theory", the defrauded funds. If there was a fraud then our refusal to sign up for another year “rent free” would cause IDA’s income from the fraud to dry up. This is a possible explanation for IDA’s renewed interest in our project.

If you accept "the Criminal Fraud Theory", then IDA had been getting a contribution to its overhead of IRP 16500 per year from EU structural funds thanks to us. One theory is that they now realized that we would never sign up to another year “rent free” under any circumstances and they probably had run out of time in any case. So they thought of another way to get the money which was to up the price to be paid for the building.

By August 1997 the price had risen to IRP 135,000 an increase over the 1992 agreed amount of 80%!

The reader will also note that the adjacent field which was to allow for expansion and which had formed part of the 1992 price is now also withdrawn. They knew full well that we were desperately short of space, particularly since the introduction of the Cobra table which was shipped partially assembled. The space problem was now such that when we were making a Cobra shipment we could not make anything else. By not selling us the field they were de facto stopping any further development of the company. Its worth noting that on 24th of April 1997 Mr Kieran McGowan, IDA chief executive informed the Dail's Public Accounts Committee that IDA Ireland currently had 800,000 sq ft of empty sites in the Republic!

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