Tuesday 6 December 2016

Greg Kavanagh rejects claims he is getting into the oil business

Developer insists contact with a representative of the industry came to nothing

Published 07/08/2016 | 02:30

Greg Kavanagh of New Generation Homes
Greg Kavanagh of New Generation Homes

Developer Greg Kavanagh has moved to dismiss a claim that he has been seeking to raise funds to become involved in the oil business.

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"First I've heard of it," Kavanagh said when contacted by the Sunday Independent.

Pressed on the matter, the New Generation Homes founder reiterated "it's the first I've heard of it," before adding "you're the second journalist who has asked me this."

Asked if he had been making any inquiries with anyone involved in the oil industry, Kavanagh confirmed he had been contacted by "somebody" without revealing who they were. The developer insisted this contact had come to "nothing".

He said: "There was a crowd looking to raise money [in relation to the oil industry] and they were running an investor roadshow, but I was one of many people at it and I didn't give them anything. Literally that was it."

Asked who had been behind the investor roadshow, Kavanagh didn't identify them, saying simply that the presentation had taken place "about a year and a half ago".

The developer's recollection in relation to the approximate timing of the investor roadshow almost coincides with an email he sent on January 8, 2015, to the then governor of the Central Bank, Patrick Honohan, in which he sought a meeting and voiced his concerns over distressed US bank loans to the US oil industry.

Having had his request for a meeting denied, the developer wrote once more, saying: "I promise you, if one of those loans is bought by a European bank after yesterday's date, I will spend tens of millions in advertisements across Ireland and Europe highlighting the shortcomings of the Irish Central Bank."

He added: "I will spend so much that the governor's position will become untenable. So if he does not raise the issue with the ECB I can assure you and him, I will act. Regards, Greg." The emails were released by the Central Bank in response to an FOI request.

Kavanagh is adamant any suggestions he has been looking to raise money to enter into the oil business are "factually incorrect".

He has had his name associated with the industry in the past.

In 2014, one of Kavanagh's companies, Past Plural Ltd (PPL) became the subject of a High Court action brought by two oil exploration firms in which they sought €238m for alleged misrepresentation over a drilling licence deal.

Valentia Exploration and Production Ltd, a British Virgin Islands-registered company, and Valentia Exploration North Sea Ltd, a UK-registered company sought to sue PPL, Greg Kavanagh, Paul Doody, and by order of the court, businessman Stephen Murphy, who it was reported was involved in the property sector.

The lawsuit centred on an alleged agreement to invest in an oil and mineral gas drilling licence within block 211/12B of the UK's Continental Shelf zone. Under the alleged deal, it had been proposed the Valentia companies would transfer into a drilling licence which had been granted to another company called Elixir Petroleum Europe Ltd.

It was claimed in the High Court that Kavanagh had asked Murphy to invest. It was further claimed that in September 2011, Kavanagh told Murphy that PPL had concluded investment and management agreements with Valentia with a view to undertaking an exploration project.

Asked to comment on the 2014 case which was ultimately discontinued, a spokesman for Kavanagh said: "The plaintiffs were asked to put up around €120,000 security for costs in a case in which they were seeking €238m. They did not do so. The facts speak for themselves."

Kavanagh's New Generation Homes confirmed last week that its chief operating officer, Silvia Shiliashka is leaving her position. While she had been living in London while commuting to Dublin for work, it is understood a change in her circumstances made it difficult for her to give the time to fulfil her roles in both cities.

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