Thursday 22 February 2018

Unicorn owners told to hand over files of two firms

Unicorn Restaurant.
Unicorn Restaurant.
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The long-time owners of businesses including the high-profile Unicorn restaurant in Dublin have been given 48 hours to hand over a computer containing the accounts and files of two companies previously put into liquidation at the request of tax authorities.

Married couple Jeffrey Stokes and Pia Bang Stokes consented at the High Court yesterday to orders compelling them to hand over assets including the computer, company cars and files and accounts of two companies that previously operated the Unicorn and nearby Il Segreto restaurants.

They were given a week to produce the assets, with the exception of the computer, which is to be handed over by tomorrow.

The couple are the parents of Christian and Simon Stokes, who were disqualified from acting as company directors in 2012 following the high-profile liquidation of their high-end restaurant Bang Cafe.


The Unicorn has long been one of the most fashionable restaurants in Dublin, playing host to the likes of former US president Bill Clinton and rock star Bono. But it has been mired in financial troubles in recent years.

Yesterday, in front of Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan, lawyers for Pia Bang Stokes said she consented to orders to hand over the company computer along with two Fiat 500 cars valued at €12,000, company records and any other assets of Vino Classico Ltd to liquidator Myles Kirby.

Jeffrey Stokes consented to orders to hand over the assets of related company Citywest Hire Ltd.

But Mr Stokes was granted a three-week adjournment to respond to what was described by the barrister for the official liquidator as "very serious" allegations that funds "disappeared" from Citywest Hire Ltd prior to its liquidation. Lawyers for Mr Stokes said their client would produce evidence defending against that allegation.

Ms Bang Stokes and Georgio Casari are the directors of Vino Classico, which took over the Unicorn Restaurant in 2011, along with a piano bar, two cafes and a food store on Merrion Row in Dublin.


The company was later struck off for failing to file its accounts on time, but was reinstated at the request of the Revenue Commissioners so that a liquidator could be appointed.

The court was told that Mr Casari was co-operating with the liquidators.

Mr Casari and Jeffrey Stokes are directors of Citywest Hire Ltd, a company that operated the nearby Il Segreto restaurant and is also in liquidation.

In court yesterday, lawyers for liquidator Mr Kirby secured orders against Pia Bang Stokes and Jeffrey Stokes -- a director in related company City West Hire, which operated the nearby Ill Segreto restaurant, for the handover of assets.

When the original company behind the Unicorn went into liquidation in 2011, suppliers were left with €2m of unpaid debt.

Suppliers only learnt at a creditors meeting that the lease for the Unicorn premises had been transferred from the heavily indebted original company -- Springmanor -- to Vino Classico prior to the liquidation.

Springmanor had been owned by Mr Casari and Mr Stokes.

Irish Independent

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