Irish Life faces €20m lawsuits over property deal
Investors lost over 70 per cent of 2007 investment after Irish Life sold London office block
Irish Life sold 23 Austin Friars in the City of London at a loss earlier this year
Irish Life, which was taken over earlier this year by Great West Lifeco of Canada, is facing up to 220 lawsuits from disgruntled investors who lost nearly €20 million in a property deal promoted by the company.
The investors lost over 70 per cent of their original 2007 investment, after Irish Life earlier this year sold 23 Austin Friars, an office block in the City of London.
Legal papers were served on the insurance company this week. Lavelle Coleman, which has specialised in taking cases on behalf of unhappy financial investors in recent years, is representing the Irish Life litigants.
The investors put cash into an Irish Life geared property fund six years ago. The fund, in turn, borrowed from Permanent TSB, then its sister institution, and paid about £38.1 million for the building.
It is understood that the investors will argue that they were led to believe the five- year loan could be rolled over with PTSB, if required. It is further understood that it was not possible to roll up the loan with the bank when it fell due last year, apart from a six-month extension.
In order to repay PTSB, Irish Life then sold the building to a Russian investor for about £27.7 million, crystallising the losses of the investors. Neither Irish Life nor Lavelle Coleman was available for comment yesterday.