Missing man sued for €3m over debt, deposits
LEGAL moves have been made to freeze properties owned by a missing businessman, who is being sued in connection with property deposits and debts totalling almost €3m.
Two judgment mortgages have been issued against homes owned by Karl Morris (47), the managing director of Simple Overseas Properties (SOP), the Irish Independent has learned.
The move effectively prohibits any dealings with the properties unless Mr Morris, formerly of the Mill House, Schull, Co Cork, discharges a €368,000 debt.
The money is owed to investor Cyril McMorrow following the settlement of a High Court case in 2008 over a Spanish property deal which went sour. He can now seek an order to have the properties, an apartment in Milltown, Dublin, and a house in west Cork, sold in an effort to recoup the money owed to him.
Separately, Mr Morris is being pursued in the High Court by 39 former clients who claim they gave his company deposits totalling more than €1m for a holiday apartment complex in Morocco.
The Moroccan company building the complex, the Asilah Marina Golf near Tangiers, claims Mr Morris did not pass on the deposits to it.
Asilah Invest said that while it did have discussions with Mr Morris about marketing the apartments in Ireland, it never entered into any deal with him and did not have any deposits passed to it by him.
A further 31 former Irish clients have issued proceedings against Mr Morris in Spain in relation to €1.5m in deposits they claim were paid for the same project and another one close by, called Asilah Beach Resort.
Although still registered as a company, SOP effectively shut down 18 months ago and irate clients have been unable to get in contact with Mr Morris, who is thought to be living in Spain.
Anthony Joyce, a solicitor representing 39 of Mr Morris's former clients, said the group was contemplating making a criminal complaint to gardai.
They are also seeking a civil judgment against Mr Morris for failing to pass on deposits totalling €1,068,375.
The deposits range in size from €18,000 to €133,000.
Mr Joyce said a lot of the investors feared they would never see their money again.
Meanwhile, Paul Clarke, a former employee of Mr Morris based in Spain, is representing the 31 other investors who placed deposits totalling more than €1.5m on 57 properties in two Moroccan developments.
The group has issued proceedings in the Spanish courts as they were given contracts by SOP's Spanish arm, Simple Properties Group SL.
Mr Clarke said a judge in Fuengirola had issued a detention order against Mr Morris on July 26, meaning he can be detained if spotted by Spanish police. However, authorities have not been able to locate Mr Morris.
Efforts by the Irish Independent to make contact with him have been unsuccessful.
High Court proceedings have also been issued against Mr Morris by a legal firm and a bank in relation to other matters.