Crosbie sues Nama in bid to halt potential €77m judgment

Developer hires former minister for justice Michael McDowell to sue agency over ‘leaks’

Developer Harry Crosbie, whose companies owe Nama about €430 million, is to ask the High Court to prevent Nama from pursuing him further over his debts, to remove Grant Thornton as receivers to the theatre, and “compensate Mr Crosbie for leaks made by Nama of personal information regarding his financial affairs”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Developer Harry Crosbie, whose companies owe Nama about €430 million, is to ask the High Court to prevent Nama from pursuing him further over his debts, to remove Grant Thornton as receivers to the theatre, and “compensate Mr Crosbie for leaks made by Nama of personal information regarding his financial affairs”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Harry Crosbie, the Dublin docklands developer who built Point Village and the Grand Canal Theatre, has launched a lawsuit against the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) in an effort to regain control of the theatre and stymie the agency’s attempts to register a €77 million judgment against him.

Mr Crosbie has hired former justice minister Michael McDowell to represent him. High Court proceedings were issued on Thursday.

The developer, whose companies owe Nama about €430 million, will ask the court to prevent Nama from pursuing him further over his debts, to remove Grant Thornton as receivers to the theatre, and “compensate Mr Crosbie for leaks made by Nama of personal information regarding his financial affairs”.

Nama was unavailable for comment last night.

The agency earlier this year asked the High Court to register a €77 million judgment against him after it accused Mr Crosbie of failing to disclose to it a number of assets, including three apartments in France.

Nama also accused him of allegedly diverting funds to himself that should have gone towards defraying his Nama debts, as well as allegedly making cash payments to family members as his businesses trundled towards insolvency, including transfers of €740,000 and €650,000 to his wife.

A High Court judge is due to give his judgment on that case by the end of July.

A statement released yesterday on behalf of Mr Crosbie claimed Nama had entered into a “solemn agreement” with him in August 2012 not to pursue him for further debts.

He claims the agreement was made in writing between Nama’s solicitors, McCann Fitzgerald, and his own legal representatives, William Fry.

Mr Crosbie is arguing that the agreement was struck after he paid Nama €35 million and sold his stake in the O2 arena, formerly the Point Theatre.

He claims that Nama’s side of the alleged deal was that it would to cease pursuing him for the rest of his assets.

In an affidavit presented as part of the judgment case, Mr Crosbie claimed Nama “agreed that it would no longer have legal recourse to my other remaining assets, including my interest in my family home, my son’s home and a business carried on by my wife”.

He argued that Nama agreed to “not pursue me by way of enforcement and/or bankruptcy and secondly they would endeavour to use their good offices to advance a similar arrangement with my other banks”.

Nama has denied that any such agreement was reached.

Bernard McLoughlin, a Nama official, has acknowledged that there was an agreement discussed between McCann Fitzgerald and William Fry in August 2012, but denies it was a “full and final settlement”.

Nama claims that, after discovering Mr Crosbie had not made a full disclosure of his assets, it gave him one more chance to co-operate with the agency and ordered him to take a number of measures, which included consenting to the appointment of receivers to the Grand Canal Theatre (now renamed).

The agency says that “debt forgiveness” was never on offer, only an agreement to extend forbearance. Relations later soured between Mr Crosbie and the agency, culminating in the €77 million judgment case and this lawsuit by Mr Crosbie.