Tuesday 24 October 2017

€37m judgment against former AIB manager

NAMA’s home in Dublin’s Treasury Building. Tom Burke
NAMA’s home in Dublin’s Treasury Building. Tom Burke

A FORMER general manager of business banking with Allied Irish Banks (AIB) has consented before the Commercial Court to entry of €37.2m judgment against him in favour of NAMA over unpaid loans mostly issued for property investment.

Separate proceedings to decide if Thomas Hopkins is liable for further sums totalling more than €17m will be subject of full hearings due to his raising arguable defences to those claims.  His wife Mairead is disputing liability for some €11m loans.

In one set of proceedings, NAMA company National Assets Loan Management Ltd (NALM), sued Mr Hopkins, Palmerston Park, Rathmines, Dublin, and another businessman, Thomas Durcan, Terenure Road East, Terenure, Dublin, for €43.5m and for €37.1m respectively over loans made by Bank of Ireland (BoI) and former Anglo Irish Bank, now Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).

Those facilities were part of a portfolio of loans advanced to the defendants and others by AIB, BOI and Anglo, all of which were acquired by NAMA in 2010.

BOI was the lead participating institution in that portfolio, identified as the Hopkins connection, and the loans were issued for purposes including buying development lands at Bettystown, Co Meath; Bessboro, Terenure, Dublin and Blackhall Place, Dublin.

Mr Durcan previously consented to judgment for €37.1m.

Mr Hopkins, who accepted he had a liability but raised issues about the accuracy of figures from NAMA, yesterday also consented to judgment for €37.1m of the €43.5m claimed.

He disputes liability for the remainder.

In a second action, NALM is suing Mr Hopkins and his wife Mairead for sums of €2.84m and Stg£7.02m (€8.8m) arising from various facilities and guarantees.  It is claimed those facilities were advanced for purposes including to buy commercial property in west Sussex, shares in AIB and an investment property in Rathgar, Dublin.

The couple deny liability and Mr Justice Kelly decided they had raised an arguable defence to the claims entitling them to a full plenary hearing.

Among the issues raised are claims by the couple, when borrowing as a trustee, liability is limited to trust funds.

Mr Justice  Kelly noted there was evidence Mr Hopkins had told AIB other banks had sought personal guarantees concerning the trust loans but AIB had decided not to.

Mr Hopkins had also complained a UK property fell in value from €6.5m to €4.5m while NAMA allegedly delayed in considering his request to sell it.

In opposing the claim for judgment against her, Mrs Hopkins alleges she was unaware, when signing the loan documents related to setting up an investment trust for the couple's three children, the loans were secured on her family home and she could be held personally liable for them.

She understood recourse for the loans was limited to trust properties.

Her counsel Dermot Cahill BL said Mr Hopkins had misrepresented to her the nature of the loan facilities by failing to explain they were secured on her home and she could he held personally liable for them.

AIB had an obligation to ensure she was aware of the nature of the facilities and had independent legal advice, he argued.

Aidan Redmond SC, for NAMA, disputed those and other claims. Mrs Hopkins' husband was a director and senior lending manager with AIB whose expertise was "superior to any solicitor's," counsel argued.

Her complaint appeared to be she did not get the benefit of a deal agreed with her husband which was to the detriment of his creditors, counsel said.

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