Sunday 25 February 2018

AIB pursued by liquidator of Unicorn Restaurant

Georgio Casari in The Unicorn restaurant
Georgio Casari in The Unicorn restaurant
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

AIB and restaurateur Giorgio Casari are being pursued in the High Court by the liquidator of a company formerly behind the high profile Il Segreto eaterie in Dublin, amid claims that the pair fraudulently removed almost €200,000 from the company.

Myles Kirby was appointed liquidator of Citywest Hire Ltd by the High Court in 2013. Mr Casari, pictured, co-owned the company with Jeff Stokes.

The company traded as the Il Segreto restaurant, located on Merrion Row in the heart of Dublin's business and political centre. It was a sister restaurant to the adjacent Unicorn, which is also now defunct and which was also co-owned by Mr Casari.

After being appointed liquidator, Mr Kirby established that cash and credit card sales totalling tens of thousands of euro attributable to Citywest Hire were lodged to or diverted to another company called Petrolo. At the time, Petrolo was the company behind the Unicorn restaurant, which was also run by Mr Casari. Mr Stokes' wife, Pia Bang Stokes, was also a director of Petrolo.

The Unicorn was once one of Dublin's most fashionable restaurants.

Mr Kirby made an application to the High Court in 2013 under the Companies Act 1990 against both Petrolo and Jeffrey Stokes, seeking repayment of improperly transferred funds totalling more than €63,000. In 2014, the High Court ruled that the lodgment of money to the Petrolo account had the effect of perpetuating a fraud against Citywest Hire.

Now solicitors for Mr Kirby, in his capacity as liquidator for Citywest Hire, have issued a motion on his behalf against AIB and Mr Casari seeking an order that the bank and the restaurateur deliver or pay €198,982 to him.

Mr Kirby has claimed that the funds were improperly removed from Citywest Hire and that the effect was to perpetuate a fraud on Citywest Hire, its creditors and members.

The action would recoup funds for creditors, including the Revenue.

The case is due before the High Court on July 3.

Mr Kirby has issued separate proceedings against AIB and Mr Casari in respect of a related company, Vinco Classico, seeking the return of almost €92,000.

In 2011, the original company behind the Unicorn, Springmanor, was placed in liquidation with debts of €2m. Springmanor was owned by Mr Casari and Jeff Stokes. But the Unicorn restaurant had ceased to be part of Springmanor in 2010, and the lease transferred to Vino Classico, which operated the Unicorn between 2011 and 2013.

Mr Casari and Ms Bang Stokes were directors of Vino Classico, to which the Revenue Commissioners had Mr Kirby appointed liquidator in 2013.

Irish Independent

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