Investment executive Harry Cassidy ‘beggared himself’ when he misused client funds

Custom House Capital chief executive headed a business with a ‘toxic’ atmosphere and got angry when questioned, court told

The former chief executive of Custom House Capital (CHC), Harry Cassidy, was an “extremely strong” personality whose management style was “dictatorial”, the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told on Friday.

Cassidy (66) and non-executive director John Mulholland (72) owned 90 per cent of the regulated investment firm, which was a “remnant” of Guinness Mahon, the former merchant bank associated with the so-called Ansbacher Deposits and the finances of the late taoiseach, Charles Haughey.

Cassidy took over the running of Custom House Capital in 2000. Over the course of the 2000s CHC became progressively more focused on commercial property investment ventures in continental Europe. Investors who gave their money to CHC did so in the main because of Cassidy’s reputation.

Former CHC employee Angela Mahon described Cassidy as an “extremely strong figure” with a “dictatorial style”, the court heard. Former financial controller Paul Lavery told An Garda Síochána of “physical and verbal assaults” by Cassidy and of a “toxic environment” within CHC. John Whyte (52), former head of private clients at CHC, said Cassidy would “lose his temper” when people quizzed him about the misuse of client funds.


Cassidy was on a salary of €430,000 in CHC but following its collapse in 2011 he ended up having to sell his home and the building on Merrion Square where CHC had its offices. He went through bankruptcy and ended up living in Germany, teaching English as a foreign language and earning €24,000 a year.

Now he lives in rented accommodation in Ireland with his wife and has been recently served with an eviction notice. The former investment expert, his counsel told the court, had misused client funds to try to save CHC and not to enrich himself. To the contrary, by doing what he did, Cassidy had “beggared himself”.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent