Man who bought private jet and yacht with council money argues they were ‘permissible’
| Last updated
A man who bought private jet and yacht with council money argues they were ‘permissible’.
Liam Kavanagh effectively made Thurrock Council bankrupt after they invested £655 million in his solar farm business.
One year after The Audit Commission was abolished in 2015, the council started investing money with his business, Rockfire.
Without the spending watchdog to stop it from acting recklessly, the council had planned to get regular interest payments with its cash safe in the investment.
However, this didn’t go to plan for Thurrock Council - the interest payments stopped, and the estimated value of Kavanagh’s solar farms is less than it had expected.
By 2018, the council had funnelled investments for more than half a billion into his business.
With a further £130m invested, the money never actually reached the solar farms.
Instead, Kavanagh spent the money on himself and had an absolute whale of a time.
Documents have been leaked from Rockfire, showing payments like a whopping £16m for his fancy new yacht, Heureka.
There’s also a pretty £12m to a company that bought the bloke’s private jet.
Payments also show £2m for his Bugatti Chiron car as well a magically disappearing £40m into a bank account simply labelled ‘other’.
Turns out Kavanagh seemingly always planned to splash the council’s cash on himself, as an email from 2020 suggests: “These funds… will be used to create a new family investment office and to create wealth for years to come.
“This has always been my plan."
Kavanagh’s lawyers say all of these payments, on private jets, yachts and cars, were permissible and were approved by his company’s auditor and finance team. They say the transactions were all totally legal and he was actually ‘entitled’ to spend this money however he wished.
The lawyers said there were no restrictions on how the investments were to be used.
Kavanagh said Thurrock Council had approached him about their investments in his business and ensured they had produced significant income over several years.
He said: "I have never misled Thurrock Council during the course of those investments. It was always my understanding that Thurrock Council conducted its own independent due diligence into investments."
The businessman is no longer living in the UK, the solar farms are being sold by administrators and the council faces a £200m shortfall on its investment.
Thurrock Council had no choice but to cut services, put up council tax and the Government says it has offered it financial help.
The Millionaire who Cheated a Council is on BBC iPlayer now.