Firm connected with ex-developer John Fleming working on £50m London deal

Donban Contracting UK hired to concert former offices of the Port of London on Trinity Square into a hotel

John Fleming, pictured in 2009. His construction and property business went into liquidation in March 2010. Photograph: Garrett White/Collins Court

John Fleming, pictured in 2009. His construction and property business went into liquidation in March 2010. Photograph: Garrett White/Collins Court

 


A company connected with former builder and developer John Fleming is working on a £50 million contract for the conversion of a historic central London building into a hotel.

Mr Fleming’s construction and property business went into liquidation in March 2010, owing just over €1 billion to a series of banks, including Anglo Irish, AIB, KBC and Bank of Scotland.

Donban Contracting UK, of which Mr Fleming was a director up to 2010, is working on a £50 million sterling (€61 million) contract to convert the former offices of the Port of London on Trinity Square into a hotel.

In late 2009, a rescue plan for the Fleming group drawn up by a High Court-appointed examiner, George Maloney of Baker Tilly Ryan, proposed moving its building contracting businesses to an entity called Donban Ltd. However, the Supreme Court refused to approve that plan, sparking the group’s collapse, after which Mr Fleming was declared bankrupt in the UK.

Donban Ltd is registered at the Fleming group’s old offices in Bandon in Co Cork. Christopher Hayes, who was a key member of the group’s staff, is a director of both companies.

However, they have different shareholders. Donban Contracting UK Ltd’s shares are ultimately owned by Fintan Crowley through a holding company, Berkeley Registrars. Donban Ltd’s shares are owned by Veronica Collins.

The UK company’s turnover increased by more than 150 per cent in its last financial year to £35 million from £14 million. Profitability increased at a faster rate, from £67,000 to £477,000.

The company has worked on a number of projects with another Fleming-connected company, Vision Modular Systems.


Declared bankrupt
Just over two years ago, Southend County Court in England discharged Mr Fleming from bankruptcy. He had been declared bankrupt in November 2010, following proceedings which he initiated.

Documents from the case show he handed over most of his personal assets to a group of Irish creditors that had secured judgments against him ranging from €15 million to €26 million. The creditors accepted these assets under terms of the bankruptcy settlement adjudicated by the court.

The documents showed that in July 2010 he handed over assets worth €3 million-€4 million to Tom Kavanagh, liquidator of one of his main group companies, JJ Fleming Holdings, in settlement of a €15 million judgment. The company had unlimited liability and as a shareholder he was responsible for its debts.

Mr Fleming moved to Essex in February 2010, which entitled him to seek bankruptcy in the UK courts after six months.