Business Irish

Saturday 21 April 2018

Ambassador sues Irish developer for €32m in UK dispute

Mr Ryan said the money was paid to his personal account until a Switzerland-based company was formerly established.
Mr Ryan said the money was paid to his personal account until a Switzerland-based company was formerly established.
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Irish property developer Thomas Ryan - who was catapulted into the limelight in 2013 when he announced plans to build a £1bn (€1.3bn) skyscraper in London - is being sued for £25m (€32m) by a Saudi Arabian Ambassador who has accused him of deceit and false and fraudulent representation. He's also suing Mr Ryan's London-based company, Ryan Corp.

Mr Ryan, whose address is listed in Dublin, has denied the allegations and said they are "completely untrue".

The Saudi Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates - Mohammed Albesher - had entered into a joint partnership with Mr Ryan and his Ryan Corp business to buy a £100m (€130m) property in Canary Wharf where the luxury residential skyscraper was to be developed.

It had been expected that when built, the skyscraper could have generated a £300m profit, that would have been split between the two investors.

The effort to buy the property - Hertsmere House - ultimately unravelled, but not before, it's claimed, Mr Albesher had handed over a total of £20m in deposits to Mr Ryan that were designed to help seal the acquisition of the building.

Prior to his current appointment, Mr Albesher was the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Morocco.

At a 2013 meeting in Casablanca, Mr Ryan allegedly told Mr Albesher that the Ambassador needed to pay £15m into Mr Ryan's personal account with Credit Suisse.

Mr Ryan, it is claimed by Mr Albesher, said he would also deposit the same amount into the account. The money was to be used as a down payment for Hertsmere House.

Mr Ryan said the money was paid to his personal account until a Switzerland-based company was formerly established.

The company was to be equally owned by him and Mr Albesher, and the funds would eventually be transferred to that Swiss firm's bank account.

Mr Ryan has also claimed he never told Mr Albesher that he would match the £15m deposit to the Credit Suisse account. "That simply is untrue," Mr Ryan has told the London High Court.

"All of my funding was to be provided through debt finance and I made that clear to the claimant from the very beginning."

Mr Albesher transferred the money as requested in September 2013, it's claimed.

Two days later, contracts were exchanged between Ryan Corp and the vendor for the purchase of the property, with Ryan Corp having paid a £10m deposit.

The completion date was set for October 29, 2013.

It has been claimed that Mr Ryan was unable to secure finance for the remaining £90m from Credit Suisse or any other party.

On November 7, 2013, Mr Ryan allegedly represented to Mr Albesher that he required an additional loan of £10.4m from the Ambassador to extend the contract for the purchase of the property. Mr Albesher provided the funds, it's claimed, and Ryan Corp paid a further £10m to the vendor, as well as an "interest payment" of £400,000. The completion date was then set for 23 December, 2013. But Ryan Corp was unable to complete the purchase, and the £20m down payment was forfeited. The property was then sold to a Chinese buyer.

Mr Albesher claimed that he had also transferred the money to Mr Ryan after relying on certain guarantees allegedly given by Credit Suisse. Mr Albesher is also suing the bank in the case. Credit Suisse has denied any liability to Mr Albesher.

A default judgment was entered by a UK High Court judge against Ryan Corp in June last year. But Ryan Corp has now successfully had that default judgment overturned, having argued that it has a real prospect of successfully defending the claim against it.

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