Sunday 18 March 2018

'Intimidation' of receiver over takeover of properties

Stock Picture
Stock Picture

Tim Healy

A RECEIVER says he has been subject to a campaign of intimidation and threats against him as he tried to take over a number of commercial properties in Kilkenny city centre.

The properties in High Street and Key Court were put up as collateral by four men in relation to €2.3m loans to them by Bank of Ireland which were allegedly in default.

KPMG accountant and insolvency practitioner Andrew O'Leary was appointed receiver last September and says in the last two weeks there have been a number of incidents including an overnight break in of a property on November 25.

Furniture and equipment belonging to tenants of certain buildings had been wrongfully removed while certain trading shops had been boarded up with "for rent" signs put up on them, Mr O'Leary says.

The receiver last week obtained interim injunctions preventing interference or trespass by the four borrowers.

They are: Michael Minogue, Ballycallan Road; Denis Brennan, Snowhill, Ennisnag; Joseph Nolan, The Rise, Dunmore, all Co Kilkenny; and Michael Nolan, Hawthorn Avenue, Kilkenny city.

The men are opposing a bid by the receiver to maintain the injunction pending full hearing of the matter, the Commercial Court heard.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern admitted the case to the commercial list on the application of the receiver and told Joseph Nolan, who was representing himself and the three others, that he would hear the receiver injunction application next week.

He told Mr Nolan an affidavit he had sworn in reply to the interim injunction order was "quite frankly ridiculous".

There was a whole lot of "incomprehensible information" in the affidavit including that the injunction order "had not been signed in wet blue ink".

He said he would give Mr Nolan an opportunity to swear another affidavit which should deal with the allegations made by the receiver, including that the premises had been broken into and equipment removed.

Mr Nolan said they had only been served with the proceedings last weekend and only had the weekend to prepare the affidavit that had been supplied.   They would be opposing the injunction including on grounds a tenant owed them a substantial amount of money, he said.

Rossa Fanning BL, for the receiver, said despite the interim order that they return the equipment, it had not been returned.

The judge told Mr Nolan if they did not comply with the court order, they could be liable to be brought before the court for contempt and jailed.

In an affidavit,  Mr O'Leary says in the last two weeks or so, the four, or their agents, have "engaged in a campaign of intimidation and threats and have sought to interfere and frustrate the receivership".

Apart from the November 25 break-in and removal of contents, the premises have been repeatedly watched and beset in an intimidatory manner, he says.

The defendants have placed "guards" in hi-vis vests outside the properties and continued to try to collect rent from tenants, he says.

Their conduct has caused severe distress to the businesses that are operating, he says.  One businesses from which contents have been removed says it will be forced to close within a week if it cannot resume trading.

In at least one case, the defendants had entered a business unit, demanded the occupant leave and forcibly changed locks.  When the proprietor made a payment, the defendants allowed the occupant to resume trading, Mr O'Leary says.

Since the end of October, matters "have escalated very seriously and in a sinister fashion",  he says.

Bank of Ireland has separately brought proceedings against the men seeking judgment for the €2.3m debt, Mr O'Leary says.

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