Friday 23 February 2018

Businessman Harry Crosbie denies obstructing efforts to establish assets

Harry Crosbie. Photo: Tom Burke
Harry Crosbie. Photo: Tom Burke

Tim Healy

Businessman Harry Crosbie "entirely repudiates" claims by a Nama company he is obstructing its efforts to establish his assets for the purpose of recovering a €77m judgment, his lawyer has told the Commercial Court.

National Asset Loan Management Ltd (NALM) has received some €31m from sales of Mr Crosbie's secured assets but estimates a likely shortfall of some €43m, plus costs, after sale of the remaining secured assets.

In court documents, it says its only recourse for recovery of the shortfall is to the remaining assets of Mr Crosbie, including Dublin's Vicar Street music venue, income from that venue, and his interest in various properties.

Information from Mr Crosbie last month, not previously disclosed to NALM,  showed he received income of some €1.8m from Vicar Street between 2012-2015, it said. 

Mr Crosbie had yet to clarify the nature of his interest in Vicar Street and has "failed to assist in any real way" in identifying what property or means he has to satisfy the judgment, it added.

In an affidavit, Nama Asset Recovery Manager Kevin Coakley said a July 12, 2016, deadline for Mr Crosbie to provide an updated statement of affairs and undertaking not to dissipate assets was extended to facilitate the businessman's advisors.

A statement of affairs and accompanying documents provided in late July did not address all NALM's queries and it also received a "qualified" undertaking not to dissipate assets.

Some further information provided since was of concern to NAMA, Mr Coakley said. "It appears that the defendant has diverted significant income over a number of years."

That claim was disputed by solicitors for Mr Crosbie.

NALM got the €77m judgment in 2014 and now wants a court examination of Mr Crosbie about his assets and liabilities, plus discovery of documents.

On Monday (Nov 28), Kelly Smith BL, for NALM, said while there has been some engagement by Mr Crosbie, that was "not fulsome" and her side had concerns, including Mr Crosbie had previously said he had a single source of income but now says he has a variety of income sources.

NAMA was concerned it does not have a "proper picture" of his assets and liabilities.

Mr Crosbie had proposed, rather than court proceedings, a meeting between himself, his advisors and NAMA when issues including the request for documents could be discussed, counsel said. Meetings were "always welcome" but there should be full disclosure beforehand, she said.

Michael McDowell SC, for Mr Crosbie, said NALM was using a "sledgehammer" approach when Mr Crosbie and his advisors were willing to meet with NAMA and provide documents which would be a better than a "hugely complex" discovery process.

The claims of obstruction against his client were "entirely repudiated" and, while he did not wish to use the word "bullying", the NAMA approach was "excessive".

Mr Justice Brian McGovern said NALM cannot be accused of bullying when, although some assets had been sold to reduce the judgment, a substantial part of that remains outstanding.

The judge said he would wish to give any debtor the opportunity to deal outside court with a creditor "as long as everyone is upfront".

He adjourned an application for hearing on December 19 but, in advance of that and once information is provided, directed both sides meet by December 14.

In an affidavit, Mr Crosbie said a meeting between himself, his advisors and Nama was the easiest and most efficient way to deal with the agency's queries and he indicated on "numerous occasions" his willingness to meet with Nama.

His lawyers indicated on October 25 last willingness to provide the information sought but it would take some weeks to complete, he said.

NALM had said that was "not acceptable" but its time frame was "extremely short" and this application for discovery and examination was "premature and unnecessary".

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