Couple chased for €19.4m sell landmark pub to family firm
A COUPLE who are being pursued by AIB for more than €19.4m in unpaid investment loans have sold a 250-year-old seafood pub to a company owned by their own family.
Property investor William Moran (58) and his wife Sheila (60), who are being chased for the debt, run the well-known pub Moran's On The Weir in Clarinbridge, Co Galway.
The premises has been in the family for seven generations and its website boasts of it being "renowned the world over for its superb seafood".
Actors Brian Dennehy, Pierce Brosnan and Roger Moore, golfers Christy O'Connor Jnr and Tom Watson and former Irish football managers Jack Charlton and Mick McCarthy have all been pictured enjoying meals there.
On Monday, the Commercial Court heard that the couple were to give €1.25m from the proceeds of the sale of the licensed premises to help pay off their debts.
However, the court was told that the bank had not received any proceeds, even though it had learned that the sale had been completed.
No details of who the pub was sold to emerged in court.
But the Irish Independent can reveal that the historic premises was sold by William and Sheila Moran in August 2011 to a company called The Weir Trading Ltd -- which is owned by the couple and their family.
According to company records, its directors are William and Sheila, their sons Michael (29) and Donal (23), and Catherine Moran (27).
The exact amount that the company paid for the restaurant is not clear. However, Bank of Ireland lent the company €1m and in recent months registered two "charges" against some of its assets -- including the premises and its liquor licence.
A charge is effectively the collateral for a bank loan.
This means that if the company fails to repay the loan, it is Bank of Ireland and not AIB that will be in line to benefit from any sale of the property.
Locals who are familiar with the situation said yesterday that the pub was "as busy as it's ever been" and trading strongly.
The sale of the pub is one part of a legal action which stems from loan agreements of August 2010 and June 2010.
In separate proceedings, the couple and their son Michael are challenging the bank's appointment in March of receivers over some 24 properties of theirs.
Both sets of proceedings are due before the Commercial Court again on May 8.
In the bank's action, it claims that the couple's liabilities arise from loan agreements made between the bank, the couple and Michael Moran, and from a series of mortgage loan agreements.
It expected the couple to either refinance an office block in Grudnia, Poland or give the bank the sale proceeds of that. The bank said the couple were also to give it the proceeds of the sale of the pub.
AIB learned in August 2011 that shares in a Polish company, Grudnia Investments SP ZOO, had been transferred to their son Donal Moran.
In their action against AIB, AIB Mortgage Bank and receiver Jim Luby, the couple and their son Michael want the court to issue orders restraining Mr Luby from carrying out his functions.
In an affidavit, William Moran said he had engaged in investment property for over 25 years and that he had been a property investor since the 1980s, "far before the 'Celtic Tiger' years".
He said the couple had substantial indebtedness to AIB, which had purported to appoint Mr Luby as receiver.
The deeds of appointment were "extremely vague" and made no reference to the bank's entitlement to make that appointment, he said.
Last night, Michael Moran said that he could not comment as a result of the ongoing legal action.