Sunday 26 October 2014

Former golf club chief claims Quinlan owes him $3m

Published 24/08/2014 | 02:30

Derek Quinlan
Derek Quinlan

A LONG-RUNNING dispute between financier Derek Quinlan and a former employee who claims to be owed $3m by him in unpaid bonuses has taken yet another twist.

Documents just filed with the courts in the US state of Georgia show how a motion by Mr Quinlan's lawyers to dismiss a civil action by American James Vandenberg, who he employed as CEO of the exclusive Georgia Club golf and retirement community during the boom, has been denied.

Having failed in his efforts to have the claim against him dismissed, Mr Quinlan now faces the prospect of being pursued afresh for the payment of some $3.018m which Mr Vandenberg insists is due to him from a long-term bonus scheme, a $175,000 annual bonus he claims to be owed from 2010 and 7pc interest per annum plus legal costs.

In persisting with his claim against the former high-flying financier, Mr Vandenberg has told the Georgia courts in an amended complaint filed on July 24 last that Mr Quinlan had "personally signed as guarantor" for the salary, annual bonuses and long term bonuses he believes he is owed.

He also accuses the financier of having caused him "unnecessary trouble and expense" through "stubborn and litigious conduct" which has forced him to pursue his claim for payment through the courts.

In their latest legal submission, lawyers for Mr Vandenberg have asked for a judgment of no less than $3,018,247.20 and for the case to be tried before a jury.

Contacted by the Sunday Independent for his response, Mr Quinlan said: "I will not be commenting on this matter."

The man once held up by Ireland's great and good as their very own King Midas had previously described the claim as "wholly misconceived" when the former Georgia Club CEO filed his original complaint in March of last year. He also noted it was the third time Mr Vandenberg had tried to sue for a bonus and said he would be applying to have the case dismissed with prejudice.

Mr Vandenberg's decision to initiate legal proceedings against the financier came shortly after he reached a settlement of a case he brought against Nama for the recovery of the same bonus payments in the Georgia courts.

Documents lodged jointly by lawyers for the parties last year show that the matter was settled with each side agreeing to bear their own costs.

Nama took control of the Georgia Club after Mr Quinlan's borrowings were transferred to it. Prior to that, the development had been backed by an $88m loan facility from Anglo Irish Bank drawn down by the Barber Creek Land Company which the financier had established with a view to building an exclusive estate consisting of 1,200 homes ranging in price from $350,000 to $1m.

As part of this ambitious plan, Mr Quinlan assembled a group of high-profile Irish investors, including the late chief executive of Elan Pharmaceuticals, Donal Geaney, and property developer Bernard McNamara.

Nama sold the Georgia Club in 2011 at a loss of $80m.

Today, the development boasts a 27-hole golf course, a 37,500 square foot clubhouse, six tennis courts and a fitness club. Membership is limited to 750, who pay annual dues of $24,000

Sunday Independent

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