Sunday 15 December 2019

Ivan Yates: My wife won't appeal 'fruitless and inexplicable' €1.6m debt ruling

Deirdre and Ivan Yates outside court. Photo: Maxwells
Deirdre and Ivan Yates outside court. Photo: Maxwells
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

Broadcaster and former Fine Gael minister Ivan Yates has described a €1.6m debt judgment secured by AIB against his wife Deirdre Yates as "relentless, fruitless and inexplicable".

The 'Newstalk Breakfast' presenter, who said his wife will not be appealing the High Court ruling because of the costs involved, also said that the pursuit against the couple by AIB was a "cautionary tale" for those asked to sign personal guarantees.

Mr Yates, who thanked his legal team and said he respected the decision, said he had negotiated in good faith with AIB with a view to settling the debt, adding that he believed that AIB stood little to gain from obtaining the judgment against his wife Deirdre as it already has security over her only asset - a half share in the dormer bungalow his elderly mother lives in over which the bank has a fixed charge.

"It [the judgment] does not improve their vice-like grip on any of my family's assets," said Mr Yates, who said at no time before, during or after his "troubles" with Celtic Bookmakers, did he ever transfer personal or business assets to his wife Deirdre or seek to put any assets beyond the reach of creditors.

It is not known what action AIB, which says it does not comment on individual cases, will take to satisfy its judgment.

Deirdre Yates had asked the court not to order summary judgment and allow the case to go to a full hearing.

She claimed she did not realise a guarantee she signed in relation to loans for the family bookie company would give AIB the right to pursue her for her family home at Blackstoops, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan ruled she had, to his mind, "no defence" to AIB's case and he granted judgment for €1,648,147.

The case arose out of a guarantee she gave on April 13, 2010, towards €6.7m in loans for the expansion of the Celtic Bookmakers chain, which was run by her husband. In January 2011, the bank appointed a receiver over Celtic, which went into liquidation.

Bankruptcy proceedings were launched in May 2012 by AIB against both Mr Yates and his wife seeking €3.6m.The case against Mr Yates was dismissed in August 2012 and the summons against Mrs Yates were not proceeded with.

Mr Yates was declared bankrupt in the UK in August 2012, having lived for 16 months in Wales to qualify under their more relaxed bankruptcy laws.

In June 2014, AIB demanded repayment of €1.6m from Mrs Yates, a primary school teacher, in relation to the guarantee she provided on the loans.

Mr Justice Noonan said she had, in opposing the bank's application for judgment, claimed her clear understanding was that she signed documents relating to the guarantee "for administrative purposes only". Mrs Yates claimed she had not received any legal advice before signing and the bank knew she had no realisable assets and no substantive financial experience. However, Judge Noonan said the documentation clearly stated she was "advised to obtain independent legal advice before signing the guarantee".

There was also the uncontroverted evidence that Mrs Yates was secretary of Celtic, regularly attended meetings with the bank and was appraised of financial affairs and dealings with the bank, he said.

She held 990 of the company's 1,000 shares, said the judge.

Irish Independent

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