Friday 28 July 2017

Firm loses Quinn case court bid

Dearbhail McDonald and Aodhan O Faolain

A DUBAI-based company that says it is the owner of what has been called a key asset in the Quinn family's international property group has lost a High Court bid to defer legal proceedings against it here.

Mecon FZE, whose assets are subject to a worldwide freezing order by the Irish courts following a request by the former Anglo Irish Bank, claims that it legitimately acquired a €60m property known as Hi Tech Park in Hyderabad, India, at "arm's length" from a complex entity controlled by the Quinn family.

The Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), formerly Anglo, believes Mecon is ultimately owned by the Quinns, though the family denies this.

The state-owned bank sought a freezing order against Mecon after the shares in Mack Soft, the local Indian company that owns the Hi Tech Park, were transferred to Mecon. This transaction alerted the IBRC to the possibility of a global scheme to put assets beyond the bank's reach.

The bank has separately brought legal proceedings to prevent the onward sale of shares in Mack Soft by Mecon.

Mecon – whose directors are Indian residents – sought a stay in relation to the Irish proceedings involving the company on a number of grounds, including that the case should be heard in India. IBRC, it claims, has initiated similar proceedings against Mecon in India.

As the Indian proceedings had been brought first, India rather than Ireland was the appropriate forum where the action should be heard, Mecon claimed. In opposing the motion, IBRC claimed that under EU regulations the Irish courts had no discretion but to hear its claim against Mecon.

In his ruling Mr Justice Peter Charleton said "the joinder" of Mecon to the Irish proceedings was "sensible and just" in the context of the nature of the case.

He noted IBRC's claims that the allegations at the centre of the action against Mecon and the other defendants were formed, planned and directed from Ireland. Ireland was where the witnesses were based.

The bank also alleges Mecon conspired to put the shares beyond IBRC's reach.

Mecon denies the claims and says it will vigorously defend IBRC's allegations against it in both the Irish and Indian courts.

The case is due before the Irish courts later this month.

Irish Independent

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