Turk’s Head owner says ‘nothing sinister’ in deals with wife
Businessman cross-examined as Nama seeks enforcement of €29m judgment
The Turk’s Head on Parliament Street in Dublin: owner David Cullen said there was “nothing sinister” in his entering into contracts between September 18th and 24th, 2009 to transfer 40 properties to his wife when he was disputing Bank of Ireland’s claim he was in default on loans and those contracts. Photograph: Eric Luke
David Cullen, owner of the Turk’s Head Bar and Paramount Hotel in Dublin’s Temple Bar, has denied he engaged in “extraordinary” transactions with his wife Mary to avoid repaying €29 million in loans taken over by the National Asset Management Agency.
There was “nothing sinister” in his entering into contracts between September 18th and 24th 2009 to transfer 40 properties to his wife when he was disputing Bank of Ireland’s claim he was in default on loans and those contracts, he said. The contracts were discussed from December 2008 when his wife demanded he pay what he owed her, he insisted.
Mr Cullen denied he leased his interest in the Paramount Hotel and Seafield Hotel, Co Wexford, in December 2011 to his brother Stephen for some €50,000 a year to frustrate creditors and give his brother “a bargain”.
He was “very distraught and overwhelmed” at the time, felt he had no option but to emigrate to the UK and offered the leases with the “best intentions” to protect the 150 employees.
When it was suggested the leases of his €1.6 million sale of his half of the Paramount Hotel to his wife and the registering of a charge over the Seafield Hotel were done to adversely affect the bank’s security over those properties, he said the bank’s security was a matter for it and he had some unencumbered property in Temple Bar.
Mr Cullen was examined before Mr Justice Kelly at the Commercial Court yesterday by Aidan Redmond SC, for Nama, about his assets as part of efforts to enforce a €29 million judgment obtained by Nama against him.
He agreed he completed the sale of lands to his wife for €275,000 in March 1998, hours before she sold them on for what Mr Redmond described as an “extraordinary windfall” of €4.6 million.