Friday 23 June 2017

NAMA can sue London based owner of Turk’s Head pub for €29m

Mary Carolan

BUSINESSMAN David Cullen, whose property portfolio includes the Turk's Head Bar and Paramount Hotel in Dublin's Temple Bar, can be sued in Ireland by NAMA in a bid to recover €29m, the Commercial Court has ruled.

The fact Mr Cullen is now living in London and initiated bankruptcy proceedings there earlier this month, just months after the NAMA action was commenced, does not deprive the Irish courts of jurisdiction to deal with the application to recover the €29m loans, Mr Justice Peter Kelly ruled.

There was no doubt the loans advanced to Mr Cullen by Bank of Ireland, and later taken over by NAMA, were advanced here, are repayable here and everything pertinent to them is here, he added.

He also rejected claims by Mr Cullen there had been culpable delay by a NAMA company, National Assets Loan Management Ltd, (NALM) in initiating the proceedings here such as to deprive NALM of the opportunity of having the case fast-tracked in the Commercial Court.

It was appropriate for both Bank of Ireland and later NALM to have engaged with Mr Cullen from 2009 concerning repayment of the loans and the proceedings were brought only after a business plan proposed by Mr Cullen was rejected last year. If NALM had moved earlier, Mr Cullen could have complained, he added.

The fact NALM had sought to enhance its security for the loans was also not a ground to refuse to transfer the case to the Commercial Court list, he ruled.

Other arguments by Martin Hayden SC, for Mr Cullen, including whether the loans were issued for development purposes or were "eligible loans" within the meaning of the NAMA Act for takeover by NAMA, were matters to be addressed when the court is dealing with NALM's summary judgment application, the judge said.

On those and other grounds, he granted the application by William Abrahamson, for NALM, to transfer the proceedings to the Commercial Court. He also made directions for exchange of legal documents between the sides before the hearing of the summary judgment application on a date later this month or in early February.

Previously, NALM had alleged Mr Cullen has transferred or charged more than 40 properties, including the Paramount Hotel and Turk's Head bar, to his wife and others.

Mr Cullen, formerly of Claremont Road, Carrickmines, Dublin but now living in London, disputes NALM's entitlement to security over the properties.

The case relates to loans facilities held by Mr Cullen with Bank of Ireland from 2002 which were transferred to NAMA in 2010. The loans were issued for several purposes, including development of the Turks Head bar and the Paramount Hotel in Temple Bar, Dublin, and the Seafield Hotel and apartments at Seafield, Ballymoney, Co Wexford.

NALM had said, while it was involved in considering Mr Cullen's business plan, it became concerned at actions taken by him which had the effect of moving assets beyond the bank's reach. It said it learned Mr Cullen had transferred or charged over 40 properties to his wife and other third parties, including n the Seafield Hotel and the Temple Bar properties.

Mr Cullen had also granted leases over the Temple Bar properties and the Seafield hotel to operating companies without the consent of either Bank of Ireland or NALM, it said.

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