Sunday 22 April 2018

Developer’s brother Bernard Rocca settles case with bank over €1.27m insurance policy

Bernard Rocca: settlement
Bernard Rocca: settlement

Aodhan O'Faolain

A DISPUTE between Danske Bank and businessman Bernard Rocca over who is entitled to the proceeds of a €1.27m life insurance policy of his late brother Patrick Rocca Jnr has been settled.

This morning at the High Court, Ross Maguire SC for Mr Rocca told Mr Justice Paul Gilligan that all issues between the bank and his client had been resolved and that the action could be dismissed.

No details of the settlement were announced and outside the court lawyers for the respective parties said the agreement was confidential. 

The judge agreed to strike out the action between Danske and Mr Rocca. The court also agreed to adjourn proceedings involving Hibernia Aviva, who were the holders of the policy, until early March.

Neither Bernard Rocca, nor his sister-in-law Annette, who was listed to give evidence on behalf of the bank, were present in court this morning when the settlement was announced.  

The settlement was announced to the judge on the fifth day of the action following extensive talks between the parties. The discussions commenced following the conclusion of Mr Bernard Rocca's cross-examination by Declan McGrath SC for the Danske bank.

In his proceedings against Danske Bank, Mr Rocca claimed he was the beneficiary of a Hibernia Aviva Life policy on his brother Patrick, a well known developer, who died tragically in January 2009.

Danske Bank, trading as National Irish Bank, claimed it was entitled to the proceeds to pay off monies some €1.5m still owed on a €3.85m mortgage loan advanced to Patrick and his wife Annette in 2006.

The bank claimed Bernard Rocca in 2004 assigned the policy to Brentwood Properties Ltd, controlled by Patrick Rocca. It claims Brentwood's shares were beneficially owned by Patrick and Accorp Properties Ltd while Accorp's shares are owned by the estate of Patrick and his wife Annette.

The bank claimed Brentwood assigned the benefit of the life policy to Patrick Rocca and that, plus other policies, were assigned to the bank as security for the €3.85m loan.  

In his evidence to the court Bernard Rocca, who spent three full days in the witness box, denied he assigned his benefit in the policy to any party and claims the bank has no lawful title to the policy proceeds.

He accepted under cross examination from Mr McGrath that he may have signed a document assigning his interest in the policy in favour of his brother in July 2004, but had not knowingly done so.

He claimed he was never asked by any one at any time to assign his interest in the policy at the centre of the dispute. No original of that purported assignment had ever been found, and the document purportedly assigning Bernard's interest in the policy was a photocopy, he said.

He also told the court heard that another document where he purportedly assigned his interest in the policy in favour of his brother Patrick in 2002 was a forgery, and was suspicious that the 2004 was also a forgery.

However he accepted that handwriting experts evidence was that his signature on the 2004 document was most likely his.  He also told the court that he had no idea who had forged his signature on the 2002 document.

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