A BROTHER of the late property developer Patrick Rocca Jr is in dispute with a bank over the proceeds of a €1.27m life insurance policy.
In a legal action he is seeking a declaration that the bank has no lawful title to the proceeds of the policy, which he claims should be paid to him.
But Danske Bank, trading as National Irish Bank, claims it is entitled to the proceeds of the policy in order to pay off money owed to it. This arises from a €3.85m property loan it advanced to the late Mr Rocca and his wife Annette in 2006, the High Court heard.
The bank, represented by senior counsel Declan McGrath, says €1.5m remains outstanding on that loan.
The case before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan opened yesterday and is expected to last for several days.
Opening the case yesterday, Ross Maguire, senior counsel for Mr Rocca, said the life insurance policy was one of a number taken out as part of a complex scheme by members of the Rocca family during the 1990s, when the firms were being restructured.
Mr Maguire said that it involved the three Rocca children -- Patrick Jr Bernard and Laura -- who worked in the tiling business established by their father Patrick Snr.
He said the scheme was set up in order to keep all the companies within the Rocca family, should one of them pass away.
Counsel said the premiums of the policy at the centre of the dispute were paid every month by a company controlled by the Roccas.
Following Patrick Jnr's death in 2009 the bank claimed it was entitled to the proceeds of the policy.
The bank says that in 2004, Bernard Rocca assigned the policy to a company called Brentwood Properties Ltd.
The shares of that company were beneficially owned by Patrick Rocca and another firm Accorp Properties Ltd. The shares of Accorp are owned by by the estate of the late Patrick Rocca and his wife Annette.
The bank said that Brentwood assigned the benefit of the life policy at the centre of the dispute to Patrick Rocca.
This, and other policies, were assigned to the bank as security for the €3.85m mortgage loan advanced to Patrick and Annette Rocca.
Bernard Rocca disputes the bank's claim. He denies that he assigned his benefit in the policy to any other party.
Counsel said it was Bernard Rocca's case that "simply did not happen" and he "did not assign his interest in the policy to Brentwood or Patrick or anyone else".
Counsel also said the late Patrick Rocca had represented to the bank he was entitled to assign the interest in the policy as security for the loan.
However the bank was not provided with any documentation to back these assurances prior to Mr Rocca's death, he said.
Counsel said that all it seemed to have was a photocopy of what it says is Bernard Rocca's purported assignment of the policy to Brentwood.
The proceeds of the policy have been lodged with the High Court, pending the outcome of the proceedings. The case continues.