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Friday 24 November 2017

State ranks are massed against me – McKillen

RONALD QUINLAN Special Correspondent

PROPERTY tycoon Paddy McKillen believes the full force of the State has been massed against him ever since he took Nama to the Supreme Court to prevent the toxic loan agency from taking control of his loans.

PROPERTY tycoon Paddy McKillen believes the full force of the State has been massed against him ever since he took Nama to the Supreme Court to prevent the toxic loan agency from taking control of his loans.

Since securing that victory in February 2011, with all seven judges of the country's highest court ruling in his favour, Mr McKillen claims that the powerful interests he dared to challenge "have taken every opportunity" to oppose his business interests.

The Belfast-born businessman was speaking to the Sunday Independent after being granted permission by the High Court in Dublin last Friday to sue the IBRC and its special liquidators – KPMG's Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson, the Barclay brothers and companies in their control over the selling on to the Barclays of loans he had held with the former Anglo.

Mr McKillen sought permission to bring the case after the special liquidator rejected a cash offer he had made to repay a €133m loan associated with the Jervis shopping centre in Dublin in full.

When asked for his reaction to Mr Justice Michael White's decision, Mr McKillen said: "We're delighted. We had to take this course of action because the liquidator once again refused to accept the full repayment of our Jervis Street loan.

"Given that, over the last few months, our lawyers have tightened up the security on the remaining of our loans to the satisfaction and to the benefit of the IBRC, there is no reason that he should reject repayment of the €133m at 100 cent in the euro. When you consider what this country has been through, it's hard to see the commercial logic. It should be his duty to take it."

Mr McKillen said he believed the Barclays would "call in those loans immediately" if they were allowed to purchase them from the special liquidator. "They would not be a banker to me," he added.

But while the businessman doesn't expect any mercy from the Barclays, with who he remains locked in a titanic struggle for control of the iconic Claridge's, Connaught and Berkeley hotels in London, he says he has been "devastated" by the attitude the Irish State appears to have had towards him and his business interests since the onset of the financial crisis.

"We can't get a meeting with the Department of Finance to explain how we're proposing, as the IBRC's biggest customer, to repay our loans," he said, before going on to recall the email correspondence between a key representative of the Barclay interests and the Department of Finance he had managed to retrieve on foot of a Freedom of Information request.

And Mr McKillen said he was still waiting on a ruling from the Information Commissioner on a series of other emails covered by that FoI request that the department declined to release to him.

"We just want fair play. We're not looking for anybody to take sides. Our business in Ireland has over 1,000 employees. It doesn't seem to be in the country's interest to weaken our position."

A spokesman for the Department of Finance declined to comment on Mr McKillen's claims.

Notwithstanding his decision to mount a legal challenge to the IBRC's special liquidator, Mr McKillen remains hopeful of securing a meeting.

"We've requested a meeting and I would be hopeful of getting that regardless of the legal action. Even in wars, people still have to talk. You don't get a settlement unless you have talks. I'd be very surprised if the liquidator refused to talk to what he himself described as his 'biggest client'," he said.

Sunday Independent

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