Caribbean firms allege developer stole hotel funds

 

TWO CARIBBEAN companies are suing an Irish developer over allegedly diverting for his own use large sums out of $52 million paid to his companies for a major hotel and resort development in the Caribbean allegedly left unfinished.

It is claimed Pádraig (Paudie) O’Halloran (40) misappropriated substantial funds to pay for his planned wedding in Ireland, to be organised by Weddings by Franc; buy property in the Caribbean; renovate his rented Barbados home; buy expensive cars and a $65,000 teardrop diamond ring for his girlfriend; and lease a private plane.

Mr O’Halloran, his girlfriend Suzanne Floyd and others are now being sued before the Caribbean courts by two companies owned by David Ames, of Essex, England.

Proceedings have also been brought in the Irish courts.

A former employee of Mr O’Halloran’s, Trisha Young, said in an affidavit the “key motive behind the siphoning off of funds was to continue to enable his beloved girlfriend Suzanne Floyd to live her lavish lifestyle”.

In an alleged e-mail to Ms Young of April 2009, Mr O’Halloran allegedly wrote: “I only ever ask for more money so I can send more to Suzanne. . . [Dave Ames] knows nothing. I have lied to him about the value of work, I have lied about being able to finish by July 2010. I don’t care. All I care about is Suzanne. She is my whole world. I have spent almost $1 million on the house in Barbados. I have sent so much money to Suzanne.”

In an affidavit, Mr O’Halloran, Gurland House, Sandy Lane, Barbados, said the allegations against him by Mr Ames and Ms Young are “unsubstantiated, untrue and highly prejudicial”.

He also said the e-mails allegedly sent by him were forgeries.

Mr Ames’s companies – Harlequin Property (SVG) Ltd and Harlequin Hotels and Resorts Ltd – have brought their proceedings arising from their engaging two companies of Mr O’Halloran’s – ICE Group (SVG) Ltd and Cellate Caribbean (SVG) Ltd – in 2008 to complete the construction of a multimillion-dollar development in Buccament Bay in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Mr Ames claims more than $52 million was provided to ICE and Cellate but Mr O’Halloran diverted and misappropriated significant sums.

The Caribbean proceedings are also against Ms Floyd, with an address at Viburnum Close, Goddington Park, Ashford, Kent, England, an alleged director of several ICE group companies.

In her affidavit, Ms Young, who worked for Mr O’Halloran between 2007 and 2009, said she believed he had a reputation in the Middle East for “running away from projects he could not finish”.

She further claimed a serious issue arose during her employment related to the allegedly unsafe nature of building materials being used at the Buccament Bay development.

The Irish proceedings concern the alleged transfer by Mr O’Halloran of some €1.14 million to Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB accounts. It is claimed the monies were sent to an account in Mr O’Halloran’s own name and to an account held by his father, 78-year-old Donal O’Halloran.

The Irish proceedings were admitted to the Commercial Court this week by Mr Justice Peter Kelly. Interim freezing orders related to certain accounts of both men were previously granted and have been continued to August.

Donal O’Halloran, Ballinaspig Lawn, Bishopstown, Cork, said in an affidavit he had been unnecessarily dragged into the case and wanted the order vacated against him. Monies transferred to him by his son represented repayment of amounts paid by his wife and him to their son over the years, he said.