Martin Foley: 'sales rep'

Notorious criminal turn­ed debt collector Martin 'The Viper' Foley is to be hit with a €500,000 bill by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Foley (55) will be presented with a judgement for the non-declaration of income tax.

Gardaí have been concerned about Foley's debt collecting and senior officers ordered a CAB probe into his activities last year.

It is now complete and sources say the €500,000 bill is ready to be served on Foley. Gardaí believe he is still actively involved in organised criminality and say he has the assets to pay the bill.

Foley's company,Viper Debt Recovery and Repossession Services Limited, has listed assets of only €30,000, according to accounts filed last week. This is despite the economic downturn keeping Foley remarkably busy.

He has been accused of putting people "ill at ease" when seeking to recover debts and gardaí believe Foley is using his reputation to collect money from people too afraid to face the consequences of not paying up.

Foley has 45 criminal convictions and gardaí believe he is involved in drug dealing and other serious criminal activities.

His company was incorporated on 18 November 2004, with Martin Foley listed as the sole shareholder, owning the only company share, worth €1.

He described himself as a "sales rep" on the documentation establishing the business­, which lists its head­quarters as Foley's home address on Cashel Road in Crumlin.

Garda sources say Foley has been earning tens of thousands of euro in recent months collecting debts because of the recession. CAB officers assessed the level of work Foley has been doing in calculating the bill it will shortly serve him with.

Reputable businessmen have been hiring Foley to recover debts, paying him a commission of 15-20%.

The Sunday Tribune revealed last year gardaí in the midlands gave security advice to a businessman after he made a complaint Foley called to his home seeking money in a manner that put the man "ill at ease".

The businessman owed a creditor a significant amount of money but was unable to pay it and received a visit from the notorious criminal. The man planned to get a restraining order if Foley approached him again.

Foley twice approached the man and members of his family­ in the same month demand­ing payment after he was hired to collect a debt.

Foley is not the only convicted criminal branching out into debt collection. There is evidence that as the economic downturn continues, several criminal gangs have become involved in the industry.

As many small companies fold, there is an emerging trend of frustrated creditors hiring criminals when they are unable to collect money owed.

Often, the creditors maintain they cannot afford to wait for the outcome of civil proceedings as their own businesses are in jeopardy. This is most common in the construction and property sector, which has been badly hit by the recession.