Billionaires Row

Forbes Magazine names 6 Irish citizens in its Top 400 wealthiest people in the world. By Tom Rowe


Denis O'Brien wants to knock down a mansion just off Ailesbury Rd, on Shrewsbury Rd, but the planning authorities won't let him. He paid €35m for the gaff, which makes one wonder why he wants to demolish it. Denis started his fortune with getting the second mobile phone license for his company, Esat – a prize being investigated endlessly by the Moriarty Tribunal. Denis is worth $2.2 billion, according to Forbes, which should be enough, although it allows him make mischief at the expense of another tax exile, Tony O'Reilly. He (DOB) now owns 22.2 per cent of Independent News and Media (owners of Independent Newspapers and lots lots more). Denis is officially resident in the tax haven of Malta but has houses all over the place, including Ireland. His fortune is likely to expand colossally because of the huge success he is having in the mobile phone arena in the Caribbean, Central America and the South pacific. Fast become the owner of all of Ireland.

Sean Quinn is the richest man in Ireland, according to Forbes and, uniquely among the Irish born billionaires, declares himself to be a resident here, paying tax here. He is worth €6 billion, an improvement of €1.5 billion in a single year (how can that be done?). Certainly not just from the remnants in Ireland of BUPA, his quarter stake in NCB stockbrokers, his 15 per cent of Airtricity and his hotels, including the Quinn-built Southfork-style Slieve Russell hotel in Cavan. Must have won it on the Lotto! 

John Dorrance III left home in a hurry in 1994 to avoid paying US taxes. With $2.7bn in the bank, the descendant of the man who invented condensed soup would have had a lot to pay. His father was a partner of the Campbell family, who eventually bought out the business, bequeathing his wealth to the now 63 year old John. He has lived a quiet life since he renounced his citizenship and moved to Dublin in 1994. He lives in a modest home red brick home in the city, and also has homes in Bahamas and Wyoming.

Pallonji Mistry is an Irish citizens. He is worth $5 billion. Pallonji  is not a household name in Ireland, perhaps because he is an Indian, lives in India, keeps his head down, is 78 and became a citizen only last year. This is according to Forbes magazine's annual rich list for 2008. His wife and sons were Irish citizens before he was. He made his fortune in construction, which probably accounts for his wish to become an Irish citizen. Albeit that the construction was all done in India, which, of course, is a larger construction site than Ireland. With his 18.5 per cent stake in Tata Sons, he is the single largest shareholder in India's largest private conglomerate Tata Group. Pallonji gave up his Indian citizenship in 2007 to adopt Irish citizenship. The Tata Group is a multinational conglomerate based in Mumbai, India. In terms of market capitalization and revenues, Tata Group is the largest private company in India. It has interests in steel, automobiles, information technology, communication, power, tea and hotels. It has operations in more than 85 countries. Why he wanted to become an Irish citizen is not at all clear – what's wrong with Malta or Gibraltar? 

Tony O'Reilly is quite eclipsed by the other Irish tax exiled billionaires. He is worth a mere €1.8 billion, which has enabled him to buy a Knighthood from the British (contributions to Northern Ireland charities etc), entertain lavishly, party at the expense of Denis O'Brien. He is believed to live in the Bahamas or cyberspace.

Dermot Desmond is worth $2.5 billion, according to Forbes. He made his money through stock broking, currency dealing and investments which included London City Airport, Esat, Today FM, Glasgow Celtic, none of which could come near explaining his vast wealth. Perhaps his involvement in BETDAQ the international betting exchange explains it. Officially resident in Gibraltar, but retails a mansion in Aylesbury Rd, Dublin.