Westlife crooner Shane Filan has opened up about his bankruptcy. The former boybander singer was declared bankrupt last year after losing £18million due to bad property investments.
He had to sell the house he designed in 2004 which was then worth £3.5m and is now whipped for £825,000 and he says it broke his heart.
He told the Daily Mail: “I built it, I designed it, I lived there for almost ten years. The children (Nicole, 8, Patrick, 5 and Shane, 3) are came back from the hospital after they were born. There were a lot of memories. I was very proud of it, so it was like a stab in the heart. But it’s just bricks and mortar, so it just let it go.”
Fortunately, he had his childhood sweetheart and his wife Gillian to save him from losing the plot. He said: “She was amazing, just keeping me focused. Maybe I would have been depressed without her, but she just kept me positive.
“She said, ‘Listen, you have your voice and that’s our way of making a living. We have the kids. What if one of them was sick? What would you rather have, that or not having a ‘money ?’
“When your child looks at you and you put him to bed at night and he’s just lying there, you have to remember that’s what it’s all about.”
He even had to get rid of his wedding ring as part of the bankruptcy proceedings which were valued at £33,000, but he is now getting it back.
“I didn’t want them to sell it. It’s not a good thing to do to buy your wedding ring twice. I’d rather not say how much I paid to get it back. It’s personal between Gillian and me.”
Shane admits he thought Westlife would bomb without former Mr Kerry Katona Brian McFadden when he left the band – but they only officially parted ways last year.
“When I entered the property I had just had a baby, Nicole. I sincerely wanted to invest in the future in case Westlife fell apart, because no one knew how we were going to last after Brian left. Everything the world, including us, I thought we were maybe a few years old.”
But he was caught up in the Irish property boom, easy loans and low interest rates. He admitted: “People may think I was greedy, but I have to disagree.
“My attitude was not, ‘Okay, let’s make a lot of money and get the hell out of here.’ I was investing in a place that interests me with projects that I thought would benefit people. Of course, if you make an investment, you want to make a profit. It’s just common sense. It’s not not greed trying to make a living, which is what I was trying to do.
“We had looked at a few care home sites because there was a shortage of beds in the West of Ireland. We were encouraged by council planners who loved the idea. Every councilor said we We were looking for exactly what we needed.
“In the beginning, everything was very simple. A phone call to a bank, a quick meeting and you get two million to buy a field. I put in half a million and got the rest of the banks. years to get all the building permits.”
But then it was really stuffed after the credit crunch of 2007/8 when the banks weren’t lending and wanted their money back, by which time the value of the land had crashed.
“The few years leading up to my filing for bankruptcy were the hardest. The bank letters, the pressure, the stress were awful. You’re in that twilight zone of not knowing where your life is going and yet you’re in Westlife. Everything was great with the band, I was making money and it looked good.
And he didn’t even tell his bandmates or band manager Louis Walsh: “I didn’t want them to know. I’m a private person. The guys had no idea. They knew I Had goods, but they didn’t know how bad it was.
“And then they decided we’d end as a band. I walked out of the room thinking, ‘Oh my God, if they only knew. It was probably the scariest time of my life. My job was ending, my financial security was ending, and I knew I still had bills coming in every month.
“That’s when I realized I had to get the lawyers involved. It was a scary time, especially when your three little kids don’t know anything: they just think dad is a superstar.”
And he still didn’t give in and tell the boys, even when they asked. He said: “Nicky was like, ‘What happened to everything you build?’ I said it was hard, it was a lot of pressure, but I still didn’t say I was on all fours.
“I thought I could work this out privately. I could sit down and make some sort of deal, but that didn’t happen.”
When he finally confessed, they did their best to support him. “They said, ‘You know we’re family.’ I said yes of course I did, there was nothing they could do but I just wanted them to know.
“I was told the worst-case scenario was that I would end up going bankrupt. I was like, ‘Oh, well, that can’t happen. It never will. No way, no chance. That can’t be that wrong.’ But it was.
“When you know the worst that can happen, it’s not as scary. But the thought of everything falling into the public domain made me anxious. What if everyone found out about all this mess, all the newspapers, everybody ?
“How embarrassing would that be? I won that money and I lost it all. What an idiot. You feel all of that.”
He says that once he accepted his fate, it wasn’t as bad as he thought: “I’ve never been depressed. I’ve gotten anxious, I’ve gotten nervous, I’ve had fear week or how much worse it was going to get.
“I knew I was going to lose my house in Ireland and all the other properties. It’s all gone. But my house was the one material thing that was very important to me.”
Shane now hopes the solo career will make money, but he doesn’t want it to be like a Westlife megamix.
“I was in tears a lot. I talked about it on All You Need To Know, probably my favorite song from my new album. There’s a line: ‘It takes a tear to set you free.'”
And the voice of reason in all this? This is none other than outspoken Louis Walsh.
Shane said: “He said to me, ‘You don’t have any money, but you have your voice. We will fix this problem. “
Just call it Louis will fix it.