Thursday 18 January 2018

NAMA chases Johnny Ronan's brother over €1.8m judgment

NAMA is pusuing a brother of Treasury Holdings co-founder Johnny Ronan for a €1.8m judgment over a personal guarantee concerning liabilities of a company in the Treasury group.

Conor Ronan, Castle Cove, Ballincar, Co Sligo, denies any liability under the guarantee provided in connection with  facilities given by Allied Irish Banks to Callside Developments Ltd for commercial development in Sligo.

Callside's AIB loans of some €8.37m were acquired by NAMA as part of the agency's takeover in 2012 of some €1.7 billion loans of 23 companies in the Treasury group.

Barry O'Donnell BL, for Mr Ronan, argued NAMA's delay in progressing the case against his client did not entitle it to have the matter fast-tracked in the Commercial Court.

A confidential medical report also made clear it was not appropriate to have the case fast-tracked against his client, counsel added.

William Abrahamson BL, for NAMA, argued there was no culpable delay on its part but matters were delayed due to Treasury's ultimately unsuccessful judicial review challenge to NAMA's takeover of its loans as well as considerable correspondence from Conor Ronan's solicitors.

The medical report contained no reason not to transfer because legal proceedings can affect anyone else in the same way as alleged in the report, he added.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said the High Court had rejected Treasury's judicial review in July 2012 and these proceedings were initiated in May 2013.

Due to NAMA's delay in progressing the litigation, he would not transfer it to the Commercial Court but NAMA could apply to the Master of the High Court for liberty to enter final judgment.

In its proceedings, NAMA alleges Conor Ronan is a director of Callside and the case concerned facilities given to Callside on April 4, 2007, to buy and develop commercial premises in Sligo and refinance existing debt.

NAMA claims Mr Ronan provided a guarantee and indemnity to AIB on April 6, 2007, unconditionally guaranteeing the liabilities of Callside up to €1.836m.

NAMA, on January 10, 2012, demanded repayment of some €8.37m owed by Callside and, when that was not paid, demanded payment on January 26, 2012, of €1.8m from Conor Ronan under the 2007 guarantee. Solicitors for Mr Ronan denied any liability on grounds including the judicial review challenge by Treasury that same month.

In June 2013, after NAMA met with Mr Ronan over the €1.8m, his solicitors wrote disputing liability for that.

NAMA said considerable correspondence about the matter continued into 2014 in which Mr Ronan's solicitors alleged he signed the guarantee document among a "bundle" of documents while suffering form ill-health and without independent legal advice.

It was also stated he has a heart condition. It was alleged the guarantee was unenforceable because Mr Ronan never intended tio provide one and was unaware one was required.

NAMA said it ultimately decided to issue proceedings in May 2014 but gave Mr Ronan's solicitors time after that to review data sought and supplied to them.  NAMA was also working with receievrs in efforts to secure a return from secured assets,.

In July 2012, Treasury lost its legal challenge to NAMA's takeover of its loans and, in separate proceedings, later consented to a bid by KBC Bank for orders winding up 17 companies.

NAMA had contended it could not be expected to engage in "endless debate" with Treasury before calling in the loans in circumstances where Treasury was unable to continue trading without money from NAMA.

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