Wednesday 21 February 2018

BoI told O'Donnell children to give up home, court hears

Blaise O'Donnell: claims with her siblings that they are the legal owners of family home
Blaise O'Donnell: claims with her siblings that they are the legal owners of family home

Tim Healy

THE four adult children of solicitor Brian O'Donnell were required to make legal declarations they had no interest in their luxury home in Killiney, Co Dublin, in an effort to get their parents "off the hook" for some €71m, the Commercial Court heard yesterday.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern also heard some €10m was spent on refurbishing the property at Gorse Hill, Vico Road, valued at €30m in 2006 but now said to be worth between €6-€7m. Some artworks were "missing", Des Hanrahan of Bank of Ireland also said.

Arthur Cox, solicitors for the bank, sought statutory declarations from Blake, Blaise, Bruce and Alexandra O'Donnell stating they had no interest in Gorse Hill before the bank would agree to a settlement of its legal proceedings brought against their parents, Brian and Mary Patricia O'Donnell, seeking some €71m arising from unpaid loans, Mr Hanrahan, a director of the bank's specialist property group, said.

That March 2011 settlement broke down and the bank later secured judgment for €71m against the couple, which it is now seeking to enforce. In proceedings against BoI, the children claim they are the legal and beneficial owners of Gorse Hill, that the bank has no valid claim to it and the court should discharge a receiver appointed by the bank over the property.

The court has heard the house and three-and-a-half acres at Gorse Hill are owned by Vico Ltd, an Isle of Man company, and the shareholding of Vico Ltd is owned by a discretionary trust set up by the O'Donnell parents in favour of their children. The dispute between the children and bank is whether Gorse Hill is an asset of the trust legally and beneficially owned by the children.

Yesterday, Mr Hanrahan agreed that without the statutory declarations from the children, there was "no deal" with their parents in March 2011; but he denied suggestions by Ross Maguire SC, for the children, that the declarations were sought because the bank knew Gorse Hill was ultimately owned by the children.

The declarations were sought after Con Casey, a representative of the O'Donnell parents, had suggested, in January 2011, that the bank did not have security over Gorse Hill, Mr Hanrahan said.

He regarded that claim as "totally incorrect," but to ensure the security was "watertight", the bank's solicitors required the couple to secure statutory declarations from their children that they had no interest in the property.

Mr Hanrahan disagreed that various documents and correspondence amounted to "a mosaic" showing the bank and Brian O'Donnell were obtaining security over Gorse Hill without reference to, or deliberately ignoring, the children's interest.

The case will resume on Wednesday.

Irish Independent

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