Rocca brother claims policy entitlement

Thu, Feb 14, 2013, 00:00

Businessman Bernard Rocca has told the High Court he never signed over his interest as beneficiary of a €1.27 million life insurance policy taken out on the life of his late brother, developer Patrick Rocca jnr.

Mr Rocca told Mr Justice Paul Gilligan yesterday that signatures on documents which purported to assign his interest in the policy to a company controlled by Patrick were not his.

In proceedings against Danske Bank, Mr Rocca claims he is the beneficiary of a Hibernia Aviva Life policy on his brother who died in January 2009.

Danske Bank, trading as National Irish Bank, claims it is entitled to the proceeds to pay off €1.5 million still owed on a €3.85 million mortgage loan advanced to Patrick and his wife Annette in 2006.

The bank claims Bernard Rocca in 2004 assigned the policy to Brentwood Properties Ltd, controlled by Patrick Rocca. It claims Brentwood’s shares were beneficially owned by Patrick and Accorp Properties Ltd while Accorp’s shares are owned by the estate of Patrick and his wife Annette.

The bank claims Brentwood assigned the benefit of the life policy to Patrick Rocca and that, plus other policies, were assigned to the bank as security for the €3.85 million loan.

Bernard Rocca denies he assigned his benefit to any party and claims the bank has no lawful title to the policy proceeds.

Cross-examined yesterday by Declan McGrath SC, for the bank, Mr Rocca said he had never said his brother forged his signature on documentation. He had not approved an assertion in a document tendered on his behalf in reply to the bank’s defence which stated Patrick Rocca was capable of financial deceit and forgery of signatures. He never held such an opinion.

When Mr McGrath said Annette Rocca would give evidence the brothers were not close, Mr Rocca said such a suggestion was “totally untrue” and he took his brother’s death “very heavily”. He agreed he had not attended events including anniversary Masses but he had done his own thing in respect of remembering him.

While there were certain disagreements, Patrick confided in him in the time before his death, he said. He was also “the first person Annette rang” and one of the first on the scene following his brother’s death.

He also attended and gave evidence at his brother’s inquest.

Earlier, he told Ross Maguire SC the life policy was one of a number taken out as part of a complex scheme by members of the Rocca family during the 1990s when the firms were being restructured.

The policies remained after the Rocca Tiles business was sold in 2000-01 and the premiums continued to be paid by companies controlled by Patrick Rocca, he said. Three policies were assigned to him by Patrick in July 2004 and he sought the benefit of those policies, together worth €2 million, to secure a property loan.

He was never asked to sign over his interest in this policy to Patrick or any other party, he said. When Danske Bank claimed the policy proceeds, he found that confusing and “felt bullied” by its demands.

The case resumes on Tuesday.