Cullen accused of transferring properties to wife
A businessman being pursued for more than €29 million allegedly transferred or charged more than 40 properties, including the Paramount Hotel and Turk’s Head bar in Dublin’s Temple Bar, to his wife and others.
David Cullen, who petitioned for bankruptcy in the UK earlier this month, is disputing the entitlement of the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) to security over properties, the Commercial Court also heard yesterday.
Mr Cullen, formerly of Claremont Road, Carrickmines, Dublin, but now living in London, also claims the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the proceedings issued against him last October by National Asset Loan Management Ltd (NALM), a Nama company.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly has adjourned to January 23rd NALM’s application to fast-track its case for summary judgment against Mr Cullen.
Mr Cullen could bring any application challenging the court’s jurisdiction on that same date although the judge said he faced “an uphill battle” in that regard in circumstances where the loans were issued under contracts in Ireland for properties in Ireland.
The case relates to loan facilities held by Mr Cullen with Bank of Ireland from 2002 which were transferred to Nama in 2010. The loans were issued for several purposes, including development of the Turk’s Head bar and the Paramount Hotel in Temple Bar, Dublin, and the Seafield Hotel and apartments at Seafield, Ballymoney, Co Wexford.
Yesterday Maurice Collins SC, for NALM, said Bank of Ireland and later NALM had made efforts to engage with Mr Cullen from 2009.
Mr Cullen was slow to engage, had raised issues about the basis on which the bank was seeking to engage with him and had walked out of meetings, counsel said.
After Nama had rejected a business plan advanced by Mr Cullen, the bank, on June 26th last, issued a formal demand for repayment on behalf of NALM, counsel said.
In an affidavit, NALM said while it was involved in considering Mr Cullen’s business plan, it became concerned at actions taken by him which had the effect of moving assets beyond the bank’s reach.
It said it had learned Mr Cullen had transferred or charged more than 40 properties to his wife and other third parties, including the Seafield Hotel and the Temple Bar properties.
Mr Cullen had also granted leases over the Temple Bar properties and the Seafield hotel to operating companies without the consent of either Bank of Ireland or NALM, it said.
Mr Collins said it was not correct to argue this action was intended as a springboard for other cases.
Any other proceedings against Mr Cullen or his wife were “for another day”. The issue in this case was that the loans remained unpaid, he said. Martin Hayden SC, for Mr Cullen, said he was contesting the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case on grounds his client was living in the UK and had applied for bankruptcy there with the matter due for hearing next May. He also argued delay by NALM in bringing the case disentitled it to have the case fast-tracked. Mr Cullen contended the bank had no security over certain assets, counsel said.