THE wife of owner of two well known Dublin hostelries has said the transfer of properties to her from her husband was not a deliberate attempt to get repaid what he owed her ahead of the banks.
Mary Cullen, wife of David Cullen, owner of the Turk's Head Bar and Paramount Hotel in Temple Bar, was under examination earlier today in the Commercial Court about her financial affairs.
She said that in late 2008 to early 2009 she discovered she was owed €9.3m by her husband for loans she had advanced to him almost ten years earlier.
As he had no cash to repay her, she said was prepared to accept whatever she could get in order to "secure my position."
Mrs Cullen denied the transfer was a deliberate attempt to get in before any other creditors, including Bank of Ireland, secured judgment against him.
Mrs Cullen was examined before Mr Justice Peter Charleton by Aidan Redmond SC, for NAMA, about a number of transactions involving her and husband as part of efforts to enforce a €29m judgment obtained by NAMA against him arising from unpaid Bank of Ireland loans.
NAMA got the €29m judgment last March over outstanding loans for properties including the Turk's Head Bar and Paramount Hotel.
In his evidence to a previous hearing, Mr Cullen denied he engaged in transactions with his wife to avoid repaying €29m loans taken over from Bank of Ireland by NAMA.
Yesterday, Mrs Cullen agreed with Mr Redmond that in the late nineties she bought lands in Dublin from her husband for IR£275,000. The land was developed before being sold on to another company for IR£4.6m. Her husband was paid for the land shortly before the deal was finalised.
Following the sale, Mrs Cullen accepted she loaned €5.9m to her husband during 1998 and 1999. By 2009 he had repaid interest of €1.7m on the loans. She said after becoming concerned following the property crash she made enquiries as to how much was owed.
She said his debt to her, including interest, was some €9.3m in January 2009. In September-October of that year he transferred 40 unencumbered properties to her to reduce that debt.
When asked why she accepted property assets from her husband at a time when values were crashing, she said she was prepared to take what she could get "to secure my position" and was hopeful that at some stage the values of the assets would increase.
Following the property transfer a debt of €3.74m remained outstanding.
She agreed that in order to satisfy the remainder of what she was owed in late 2010, her husband had sold, for €1.6m, his half of the Paramount Hotel to her.
In addition, a charge was registered over the Seafield Hotel in Co Wexford in favour of her. The transfers in 2009 she said were not an attempt to get in ahead of the bank. She said she wanted to be repaid what she was owed by her husband.
She also accepted she obtained judgment orders for €3.7m against her husband in 2011, two months after it was agreed his debt to her at that point was some €2.2m.
In reply to Mr Redmond she said she did not know why the amount sought in the judgement was not reduced to €2.2m , but believed the difference had to do with the €1.6m share she had received in the Paramount Hotel.
Following the conclusion Mrs Cullen's examination yesterday, the matter will return before the Commercial Court later this month.