Businessman accused of transferring more than 40 properties to wife

Nama also accuses David Cullen of breaching loan terms in leasing out Turk’s Head in Temple Bar

David Cullen is alleged to have leased the Turk’s Head bar and Paramount Hotel  to two companies in breach of security covenants in loans advanced by Bank of Ireland, since taken over by Nama. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

David Cullen is alleged to have leased the Turk’s Head bar and Paramount Hotel to two companies in breach of security covenants in loans advanced by Bank of Ireland, since taken over by Nama. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

The National Asset Management Agency (Nama) is pursuing businessman David Cullen at the Commercial Court, over alleged unlawful transfers of property.

Lawyers for the agency claim Mr Cullen transferred or charged more than 40 properties to his wife Mary in 2009 and 2010 to place the assets beyond the reach of his creditors.

It is also alleged that Mr Cullen leased the Turk’s Head bar and Paramount Hotel in Dublin’s Temple Bar to two companies in breach of security covenants in loans advanced by Bank of Ireland, since taken over by Nama.

Last March, a €29 million High Court judgment was obtained by Nama against Mr Cullen, now with an address at Iverna Gardens, London, arising out of unpaid loans from Bank of Ireland for properties including the Turk’s Head and Paramount Hotel.


Fast-tracked
Martin Hayden SC, for the defence, opposed the case being fast-tracked on grounds including alleged culpable delay on the part of Nama in initiating the proceedings.

In court documents, Nama claimed to have obtained evidence by way of cross-examination from Mary Cullen in October last year and said a short period of time was required to assimilate the information before the agency issued proceedings on December 19th last year.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said “a suspicion of fraud” had been articulated through correspondence and a response was sought by lawyers acting for Nama before proceedings were initiated. He said he did not find the eight-week analysis of evidence as unreasonable.


Creditors ‘circling’
The judge said he would transfer the litigation to the Commercial Court given the number of properties involved and in the context of David Cullen being a judgment debtor of €29 million. The judge noted Nama had accused the businessman of transferring his assets “in circumstances where his creditors were circling”.

The action is brought by the National Asset Loan Management Limited, a subsidiary of Nama, against Mr Cullen, his wife Mary, Seafield Hotel Ltd, Paramount Hotel Ltd, Fintan Wallis and Stephen Cullen.

It is alleged Mr Wallis, a solicitor with an address at Leinster Road, Rathmines, Dublin, acted unlawfully in procuring a registration of a transfer to Mrs Cullen of certain lands secured to Bank of Ireland.

The claim against Stephen Cullen relates to how he, as beneficial owner of Seafield Hotel Ltd, acquired a leasehold interest in the company.

The defendants deny the claims.