Denis O'Brien is the owner of mobile telecommunications giant Digicel and also the 3rd wealthiest person in Ireland with a net worth of $5.2 billon. In addition, he also owns various radio stations in Europe, Aergo Capital Limited (an air-craft leasing company) and the Quinta do Lago Resort in Portugal. O’Brien also has major stakes in Sterling Energy, Independent News & Media, Topaz (service stations in Ireland) and China HR.
Although Denis is a self-made man, his rise to the top has not been without its fair share of controversy: he previously controlled the Esat Digifone syndicate that became Ireland’s second mobile phone provider. However, Esat’s winning bid was shrouded in allegations of corruption, in fact, so bad was the scandal that the then Irish government had the matter investigated by the Moriarty Tribunal.
The tribunal found that there were irregular payments associated with Esat’s bid; a finding that O’Brien still maintains was flawed. Eventually, he had to sell Esat Digifone to BT but as fate would have it, it was this sale that propelled him to his enormous fortune: he used its proceeds to set up Digicel, one of the main players in the Caribbean’s mobile phone services market.
Having put the Esat Digifone debacle behind him, O’Brien has made it his mission give back to the communities in which Digicel operates. He has constructed numerous schools in Jamaica, Haiti and Papua New Guinea. In fact, after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Denis donated €3.5 million to assist the affected.
What’s more, he also helped raise over €30 million for the reconstruction of the Iron Market in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince. O’Brien is married to Catherine Welsh and has four children. He currently resides in Malta where he enjoys considerable savings on his taxes.