MUSICIAN Jim Corr told the High Court today he was trying to protect his and his family's interests when he sold off a mortgage-free Dublin 4 apartment for €350,000 shortly after a bank got a court judgment against him for €1.4m.
Under intense questioning about his finances by counsel for ACC Bank, which is owed the €1.4m, Mr Corr said he was "trying to protect what I could" once the bank got its judgment relating to an unpaid loan for the purchase of 94 acres in Goresbridge, Kilkenny.
"I was trying to protect my finances as best I could on behalf of my son because I recognised I was in dire straits," he said.
Mr Corr, a member of the band "The Corrs", was asked a number of times by Bernard Dunleavy BL, for ACC, whether it was just a co-incidence or a deliberate effort to make sure the bank did not get possession of the mortgage-free apartment at Donnybrook Castle, Dublin 4, that it sold a month after the February 2011 judgment even though it had been on the market since 2008.
Mr Dunleavy said it was an extraordinary sequence events as the apartment was bought by a Malta-based entity called I and E Properties which had no turnover that year but paid €350,000 for the the Donnybrook property. I and E was fronted by Mike Young, who was an associate of solicitor Mortimer Walters, the founder of Mr Corr's former solicitors, Adams, who had also acted for I and E in the purchase, counsel said.
Counsel also said Mr Young was an associate of a German national, Florian Karrer, who around this time had bought another apartment from Mr Corr at Sharman, Old Windmill Road, Bangor, Co Down, for st£295,000 and allowed him (Corr) to live on it rent free for three years.
Mr Karrer, who was also a business partner with Mr Walters in the Andora financial and legal consultancy firm Walters Karrer International, had met Mr Corr for the first just a month earlier at a Majorca dinner party of one of his sister's friends and told the musician he was in the business of buying distressed properties, the court also heard .
Mr Justice Peter Kelly twice reminded Mr Corr, who stared into space and at the courtroom ceiling on a number of occasions, to answer the question in relation to the Donnybrook apartment.
He told Mr Dunleavy he was trying "to sell everything" from a significant portfolio of properties that he had built up with his former partners Liam and Phillip Marks (the MarksCorr Partnership).
Mr Corr, who said he sometimes lives with his former partner Gayle Williamson and their son in another nearby apartment at the Courtyard in Bangor, said he was trying to protect his son as his finances had been "devastated mainly due to the actions of my former partner".
The court heard the €1.4m judgment ACC is seeking to enforce was also against 50 per cent shareholder in the partnership Liam Marks.
"I did what anybody would do, I was trying to protect a situation as best I could."
When Mr Justice Kelly again reminded him the question was whether the selling of the Donnybrook apartment after so many years on the market was a stroke of good luck or because of the judgment against him, Mr Corr paused and stared into space again.
When he was reminded by the judge he was under oath, he replied: "I was trying to protect whatever I could."
Asked by Mr Dunleavy did that mean he was trying to protect himself from the judgment, he said other banks had charges over the property.
Mr Corr also told the court he only knew Mr Walters "fleetingly" and had engaged Adams solicitors because someone had told him they were very good.
He got talking to Mr Karrer at the dinner party during a conversation about the global crash and in circumstances where his finances were in "freefall" and "chaos". He did not think it odd that Mr Karrer allowed him live rent free and thought maybe he (Karrer) was glad to have someone living there.
He "never thought for a second" that he would face being required to pay all of a €1.4m judgment.
The money he got from property sales largely went to put out "financial fires". He insisted he had done his best to come to arrangements with ACC over the debt as he had successfully done with Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank in relation to other debts.