Court hears of McKillen 'antipathy' to Barclays
PROPERTY DEVELOPER Paddy McKillen has displayed “an unjustified antipathy” to the billionaire Barclay brothers and has not been a truthful witness, the High Court in London has been told.
The Belfast-born developer is contesting ownership of Coroin, a holding company set up by financier Derek Quinlan in 2004, which now owns three London luxury hotels – Claridges, the Berkeley and the Connaught.
Mr McKillen alleges the Barclays denied him the opportunity to buy Mr Quinlan’s controlling stake in Coroin and also complains about Nama’s decision to sell £660 million (€823 million) of debt secured on the hotels to the Barclays.
In his closing submission, Kenneth MacLean, representing a number of Barclay companies, said Mr McKillen had begun the multi-million pound legal action to buy time to secure funding to take over the hotels should he win.
The “reformulation” of many of Mr McKillen’s arguments over the course of the two-month trial “speaks volumes about the underlying merits, or lack of merits, in those allegations”, he said.
His case is a bid to dress up allegations surrounding his alleged rights to be offered an opportunity to buy Mr Quinlan’s shares under the guise of an unfair prejudice petition, said Mr MacLean.
For good measure, he added, Mr McKillen had included allegations of conspiracy “into the unwholesome mix in order to embarrass parties” who could not otherwise be involved in the case.
Documents from 2011 clearly show Mr McKillen had sought to get very substantial payments from Qatari investors interested in the hotels, Mr MacLean argued. However, this £5 million-a-year payment was “dressed-up as promote or management fees. He did not tell anyone else about it, including the [Irish Bank Resolution Corporation], his substantial creditors.”
In his testimony Mr McKillen repeatedly insisted the money was not a personal fee but would have been used to pay the costs of a team to redevelop Claridges and the Berkeley.
Despite Mr McKillen’s charges that the Barclays and their executives had destroyed text messages, Mr MacLean said the property developer had admitted during cross-examination “to destroying hundreds” himself.
Later Lord Grabiner, representing the Barclay brothers Sir David and Sir Frederick personally, said Mr McKillen had bad-mouthed them in a bid to embarrass them into reaching a settlement with him.
Mr McKillen had sought “grubby side payments” to manage the development of the hotels and hide the money from his creditors, including the IBRC, but pulled out when he realised the payments would not come.
“He rejected the offer not because it was unfair or ungenerous but because he wanted to be paid money on the side which he can keep for himself without having to account for it to his creditors, the Irish people,” he added.
Earlier in the trial, Phillip Marshall, acting for Mr McKillen, urged Mr Justice David Richards to draw “adverse inferences” in the light of both Sir David and Sir Frederick’s decision not to give evidence. Lord Grabiner said Sir David’s illness was a legitimate reason while Sir Frederick’s decision reflected his lack of involvement in Coroin’s affairs.