Business Irish

Friday 19 January 2018

IBRC seeks €25.5m over boutique hotel loans

Tim Healy

THE Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) is seeking summary judgment orders for around €25.5m against a businessman over loans to re-develop a building in Ballsbridge, Dublin, as a boutique hotel/guesthouse and to re-finance other loans.

Patrick Halpin is contesting the bank's claim.

In 2005, 2007, and 2009, a company of which Mr Halpin and his partner Ann Keane are directors, Crossplan Investments Ltd, which is now in receivership, was loaned a total of around €23m to renovate a building called Merrion Hall on the Merrion Road in Ballsbridge by Irish Nationwide Building Society which later became part of IBRC.

The loans were personally guaranteed by Mr Halpin who along with his partner Ms Keane is also a director of another company, Elektron Ltd which owns another guesthouse/hotel, the Aberdeen Lodge, Park Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin, which is also given as a couple's address.

After the loans were not repaid, IBRC appointed Paul McCann of Grant Thornton as receiver to both Crossplan and Elektron last February.

IBRC case manager Mary Kelly said in an affidavit the receiver took possession of Merrion Hall, but Mr Halpin refused to deliver up Aberdeen Lodge saying it was the family home and estimated by the receiver to be worth around €1m.

On March 5 last, Mr Halpin applied to the District Court and obtained summonses against Ms Kelly, and a since retired IBRC colleague Declan Buckley, alleging offences of dishonesty.

He accused them of falsely representing to his (Halpin's) accountant, on the day the receiver was appointed to both companies, that the bank was prepared to continue a process of engagement whereby Elektron/Aberdeen Lodge would be able to continue to trade normally.

The bank then brought judicial review proceedings seeking to quash those summonses claiming they were for the purpose of airing wholly unfounded criminal conduct against the two officials, Ms Kelly said.

The District Court matter is on hold pending determination of the the High Court judicial review proceedings, Mr Justice Peter Kelly was told today when he admitted the bank's proceedings to the Commercial Court list.

The judge also admitted proceedings brought by the receiver, Mr McCann, against Mr Halpin and Ms Keane seeking directions that the couple are not entitled to withhold possession of Aberdeen Lodge.

Mr McCann said in an affidavit that Mr Halpin had confirmed to the bank at various times that Aberdeen Lodge was not a family home.

He and Ms Halpin were also not covered by the Family Home Protection Act 1976 because they were not married, Mr McCann said.

Mr Halpin had provided a declaration to the bank that no officer of his company ever resided in Aberdeen Lodge other than himself (Halpin) and Geraldine Halpin, "Mr Halpin's estranged spouse," Mr McCann said.

Mr Justice Kelly yesterday rejected an application by counsel for Mr Halpin and Ms Keane not to admit the matter to the Commercial Court because of delay by the bank in bringing the proceedings and to allow the High Court/District Court matters to be dealt with first.

It was also claimed the appointment of a receiver was triggered by complaints from Mr Halpin about alleged overcharging by the bank, Tim Dixon BL, for Mr Halpin, said.

The judge was satisfied there was no delay by the bank and also said the other matters would not trespass on the jurisdiction of the Commercial Court to deal with the cases before it.

He gave directions for the exchange of documents between the parties and adjourned all proceedings to next October.

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