Breifne O’Brien, an Irish businessman and socialite, was sentenced this week by a court in Ireland to seven years imprisonment for operating a $10.8 million Ponzi scheme. The scheme consisted of O’Brien selling fake property investments before Ireland’s real estate collapse in 2008.
O’Brien pleaded guilty to 14 counts of fraud and theft with regard to the Ponzi scheme, as well as sham shipping and insurance schemes. He was alleged to have masterminded an operation in which he told investors that their money would be placed in a bank account from which he would draw money to pay for investment properties. He was then supposed to flip the properties and split any profits with his investors. The money, however, was not kept in a bank account and, instead, was used to pay back other victims of the scheme as well as O’Brien’s personal expenses, including an extension of his house, a new car for his wide, and a Barbados apartment among other expenses.
The Irish media has not been kind in discussing O’Brien, having referred to him to as a fallen socialite who was a regular in the social section of the newspaper with his now-estranged wife Fiona Nagle and once famous for hosting extravagant parties at his Dublin home. He was additionally called “Ireland’s Bernie Madoff” by one paper.
O’Brien originally denied all 45 counts against him and brought his case before Ireland’s highest court in an attempt to get the case thrown out. The court refused, and subsequently O’Brien pleaded guilty to 14 of the charges. He faced a maximum sentence of ten years for theft and five for fraud. He received three and a half years for each of seven counts of fraud and seven years for each theft count. The sentences will be served concurrently in accordance with Irish custom.
At his sentencing, O’Brien stated that he is now destitute and living on social welfare.
If you or someone you know has lost money as a result of an investment or Ponzi scheme, please contact Richard Frankowski at 888-741-7503 to discuss your potential legal remedies or complete the contact form.