Wednesday 29 March 2017

High Court continues orders preventing members of Brian O'Donnell's family and others from dissipating money they may get from sale of st£132m London property

Brian O'Donnell
Brian O'Donnell

THE High Court has continued orders preventing members of retired solicitor Brian O'Donnell's family and others from dissipating money they may get from the imminent sale of a st£132m property in London.

O'Donnell-family related firms stand to get as much a st£6m from the sale of Columbus Courtyard, Canary Wharf, after substantial debts on the building have been paid, Bank of Ireland claims.

Last week, the bank obtained temporary orders preventing dissipation of the monies by Mr O'Donnell's sons, Blake and Bruce, and three British Virgin Island (BVI) registered companies, to which the banks says the residual sale proceeds could ultimately go.

It claims this is part of a sham and fraudulent scheme by  Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Pat, who are bankrupt and would not be entitled to deal in the assets, to put anything from Columbus Court beyond the reach of the bank which is owed €70m by the parents.

The bank wants the sale to proceed, as do the O'Donnells and the court-appointed official administering the bankruptcy, the court heard.

The bank had previously got undertakings, in 2012, from Blake and Bruce not to deal in the BVI assets.

However, when it learned last week the sale of Columbus Courtyard was imminent, it obtained the temporary injunction preventing the BVI companies and Blake and Bruce from dissipating any proceeds that my come from the sale.   It also took separate proceedings in the Caribbean itself on the same day.

Today, when the case returned before Mr Justice John Hedigan, Blake O'Donnell, on behalf of himself and his brother, complained they had received only the order from the BVI Supreme Court but none of the detail of what it had based its case on.

He complained the order sought by the bank in the BVI was "a backdoor way" of getting a receiver appointed over the companies and it was inappropriate. 

He did not see why the 2012 undertakings he and his brother gave were not enough and said the bank could simply have asked them (the brothers) to agree to continue them.   He claimed the bank was trying to damage their reputations.

He also said that despite bankrupting his parents, the bank was still pursuing them and pursuing him and his brother though "a derivative action".

He also claimed the bank's actions in seeking these latest orders may have triggered a default on borrowings on Columbus Courtyard which are in excess of st£100m.

Cian Ferriter SC, for the bank, said his client had met the tests for an injunction pending full determination of the matter.

The judge said what happened in the BVI was not really relevant to the bank's application to continue the orders it got here last week.

He believed the orders being sought were essentially the same as the undertakings previously given by the O'Donnell sons and he was satisfied to grant them pending a full hearing of the matter.

He also said he did not see how these proceedings could have any affect on the sale of the property.

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