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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Rocca brother: I didn't sign away interest in €1.27m life insurance

Aodhan O'Faolain

Published 14/02/2013 | 04:00

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Bernard Rocca: said he felt ‘bullied’ by Danske Bank

BUSINESSMAN Bernard Rocca has told the High Court that he never signed over to any other party his interest in a €1.27m life-insurance policy taken out on the life of his late brother, developer Patrick Rocca Jnr.

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Mr Rocca said signatures on documentation purporting to assign his interest in the policy to a company controlled by Patrick were not his.

On the second day of a legal dispute with Danske Bank as to who is entitled to the proceeds of the policy, Mr Rocca rejected as untrue suggestions that he did not have a close relationship with his brother.

In his action, Mr Rocca claims that he is the beneficiary of a policy with Hibernia Aviva Life on Patrick's life. Property developer Patrick Rocca died tragically in January 2009.

Danske Bank, trading as National Irish Bank, claims that it is entitled to the proceeds of the policy to pay off monies owed to it arising out a €3.85m loan it advanced to Patrick and his wife Annette in 2006. The bank says €1.5m remains outstanding on that loan.

It claims that in 2004 Bernard Rocca assigned the policy to a company called Brentwood Properties Ltd, which was controlled by Patrick.

The shares of that company were beneficially owned by Patrick Rocca and another firm, Accorp Properties Ltd. The shares of Accorp are owned by the estate of the late Patrick Rocca and his wife Annette.

The bank claims that Brentwood assigned the benefit of the life policy to Patrick Rocca. This and other policies were assigned to the bank as security for the €3.85m mortgage loan, it says.

Bernard Rocca disputes this.

He is seeking a declaration that the bank has no lawful title to the proceeds of the policy, which should be paid to him.

Under cross-examination by Declan McGrath SC, for the bank, Bernard Rocca said that "at no time" did he ever say that his brother had forged his signature on documentation.

When Mr McGrath put it to the witness that Annette Rocca would say in her evidence that the brothers were not close, Bernard Rocca said such a suggestion was "totally untrue".

He said he took his brother's death "very heavily", but accepted that he had not attended anniversary Masses for Patrick. He had done his own thing in remembering his brother.

In reply to counsel's suggestion that there was family pressure for him to be Patrick's best man, Bernard said his brother had wanted him as his best man but Annette had objected.

Mortgage

In response to his own counsel, Ross Maguire SC, Bernard Rocca said the life-insurance policy was one of a number of such policies taken out as part of a complex scheme by members of the Rocca family during the 1990s, when the firms were being restructured.

Following his brother's inquest, Danske Bank made a claim to the proceeds of the policy. He said that he found this confusing.

He said he could find no record of him assigning the policy to another party, but would look into it. He said he "felt bullied" by the bank's demands.

The case will resume next week.

Irish Independent

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