Sunday 18 March 2018

Couple with €108m debt put cash into car firm

NAMA also tells court shares in family home transferred to children as it seeks judgment

Tim Healy

A HOTELIER and his wife have invested €600,000 in a high-end car re-sale business despite owing €108m to NAMA, it has been claimed.

Galway hotelier and developer Michael Finn, and his wife Claire, have also transferred shares in the family home to their children, it was claimed in the Commercial Court.

NAMA is seeking €108m summary judgment orders against the couple whom it alleges have failed to use funds available to them to reduce their significant liabilities to it.

NAMA has appointed receivers to various companies controlled by Mr Finn who is associated with several developments in and around Galway, including The House Hotel and Spanish Arch Hotel.

In 2010, NAMA took over liabilities they had to Allied Irish Bank and Anglo Irish Bank. In 2011, the couple invested the €600,000 proceeds from the sale of two unencumbered assets in two companies operating a "high-end" car resale business, the agency claims.

That investment was made at a point when it was clear to NAMA the couple were insolvent, it is alleged.

NAMA also alleges, without its knowledge or consent, the couple in 2010 transferred a one-sixth share in their family home at Water's Edge, Coast Road, Oranmore, to their daughter Joyce for a value of €150,000, with her share held in trust by their son, Donnacha, until she was aged 18. They also gifted a similar one-sixth share to Donnacha in 2010, it is alleged.


It alleges the couple were unwilling to deliver up title deeds to properties over which NAMA held a first-ranked security or to apply rental monies from NAMA-secured properties to pay down their debt.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly agreed to fast-track the summary judgment case against the couple in the Commercial Court.

The case arises from various loans advanced by AIB and Anglo to the couple on dates from 2008 and guarantees executed by them over loans to two companies, Rathcotton Investments Ltd and Deveronne Investments Ltd.

It is claimed the defendants' aggregate liability to NAMA company, National Assets Loan Management Ltd (NALM), is some €108.5m.

NAMA claims the couple were given an opportunity to present a business plan and did so in July 2011 but the agency said it had "grave concerns" about the veracity of information provided by the couple.

Ciaran Lewis, for NALM, sought the fast-tracking of the case but it was opposed by Ben O'Floinn BL, for the couple, who argued NAMA had to date proceeded at "a leisurely pace" in dealing with matters and no urgency had been established.

The case will come back before the court later in the year.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News