Luxury resort developer 'lost run of himself'
A Cork developer who allegedly unlawfully diverted more than $13 million for his own benefit from $50 million of funds paid towards the completion of a luxury resort in the Caribbean lost the run of himself, using money for grandiose projects, it was claimed before the High Court yesterday.
Mr Justice Brian McGovern was told that Pádraig O'Halloran (42), Innishannon, Co Cork, had made payments towards a $1.5 million Falcon jet in the Caribbean, as well as attempting to buy a racetrack in St Lucia, it is claimed.
In one payment of $200,000, reference was made to allocating $50,000 for a Halloween party.
It has been alleged that Mr O'Halloran misappropriated the funds and various payments were made by his company to Irish bank accounts - $1.6 million into his Irish accounts in 2009 and 2010 and $358,000 into the Irish account of his father, retired businessman Donal O'Halloran, Ballineaspig, Cork, along with €120,000 and $72,000 to Weddings by Franc and €20,000 to Adare Manor.
The owners and operators of the luxury resort in Buccament Bay, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Harlequin Property and Harlequin Hotels and Resorts Ltd, claim Mr O'Halloran also bought a property in Ireland, properties and businesses in the Caribbean, a $1.5 million Falcon private jet and other items of personal expenditure designed to support his lavish lifestyle.
Now Harlequin wants restitution, damages and compensation for alleged breach of fiduciary duty in relation to the alleged Irish payments and transfers into Irish accounts.
Mr O'Halloran has denied all the claims including the misappropriation of funds and unlawfully diverting $13.3 million for the Buccament Bay project to his personal benefit. He further denies that €20,000 was paid to Adare Manor from the fund or that the purchase of his house in Cork was funded from Harlequin funds.
He has further denied that the payment for the Cork house was part of a systematic and deliberate fraud, including extensive purchases in the Caribbean, or that he acted dishonestly or in bad faith or committed a fraud.
Mr O'Halloran further denies he has dissipated all of the money represented by the Irish payments on foot of personal expenditure or expenditure which is unrelated to the Buccament Bay project.
On the second day of the case, Paul Gallagher SC, for Harlequin, said Mr O'Halloran was looking into a range of jets and was setting aside very substantial sums. Referring to the payments to Weddings by Franc, Mr Gallagher said the wedding never actually took place.
The proceedings arise as a result of Harlequin engaging Mr O'Halloran and his construction company the ICE Group in 2008 to complete the construction of a multi-million dollar tourist development in Buccament Bay in St Vincent and the Grenadine to a deadline in July 2010.
The proceedings are also against his father, who it is claimed ought to have known the payments made to him was money to which he had no lawful entitlement.
Mr O'Halloran snr says the payments to him were lawful and a repayment of funds previously advanced to his son.
Mr Justice McGovern also heard yesterday that Pádraig O'Halloran faced other proceedings in the Caribbean in relation to alleged breach of contract surrounding the construction work carried out on the luxury resort.