O'Donnells fail in bid to stop fraud case getting to court
SOLICITOR Brian O'Donnell, his wife and two adult sons, have lost a bid to stop the High Court dealing with a bank's case alleging fraud against them.
Bank of Ireland has brought an action against them alleging they conspired to put in place a "blatant" scheme to put property assets in London beyond its reach.
Judge Peter Charleton ruled yesterday the couple and their sons Bruce and Blake had established no grounds for their "misplaced" application asking the High Court here to decline to hear the bank's proceedings because of other matters before the courts of England and Wales.
The judge found, on the balance of the evidence put before him and according to the timescale relevant to this application, all four O'Donnells were ordinarily resident in Ireland.
Even if all four were not ordinarily resident here, Bruce O'Donnell was indisputably domiciled here as he is a student enrolled in university here, the judge said.
BoI had secured a charge from the English courts over a valuable property at Westferry Circus, London, as part of its efforts to recover a €71m judgment against Brian and Mary Patricia O'Donnell, he said.
But he did not consider it reasonable to conclude the UK courts would ever include the Irish proceedings with the procedures to enforce that charge, he said.
That was because the bank's Irish proceedings alleging conspiracy and fraud relating to a claim the O'Donnells acted unlawfully to make themselves "judgment proof" following the uncontested €71m judgment here against Mr and Mrs O'Donnell, he said.
That issue extended to all of their assets, not just the Westferry Circus office block development, where an issue might arise in England and Wales as to enforcement, although only as a matter of defence, he said.
The bank initiated the action alleging fraud last July as part of its efforts to recover the judgment entered against Mr and Mrs O'Donnell in December 2011 arising from unpaid loans provided for property investments.
In its proceedings, the bank contends the ownership of two London properties was moved on by the defendants either through dilution of the share capital or holding shares via a trust.
The O'Donnells deny the bank's claims.