Custom House Capital case opens

Former CEO wants High Court to quash orders freezing two accounts


A challenge by Custom House Capital's former chief executive Harry Cassidy against orders freezing two accounts with Bank Of Ireland opened before the High Court yesterday.

Mr Cassidy brought an action in respect of two accounts held by a private pension trust which has two independent trustees and was established in 2000 to administer his pension.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr heard that Mr Cassidy was the sole beneficiary of the €180,000 held in the accounts that were frozen after the Garda Síochána obtained orders from the District Court in July 2012.


In his action against the Garda Commissioner and the State, Mr Cassidy claims he is being denied full disclosure by gardaí of information he requires to challenge the making of the freezing orders.

Freezing orders
He also claims the denial of this information amounts to a breach of his rights and he wants the High Court to quash all the freezing orders made in respect of the bank accounts.

The State has opposed the action and denies any wrongdoing or that Mr Cassidy is entitled to the information he seeks. The State further argues the freezing orders are valid and should remain in place.

Custom House Capital was wound up in 2011 after a High Court-appointed investigation by two Central Bank inspectors into the firm found the "systemic and deliberate misuse" of €66 million of clients' money to cover shortfalls in European property investments.

'Improper transactions'
The inquiry found "improper transactions" concerning €56 million in client funds and a further €10.4 million owing to clients on an investment bond.

Barrister Hugh Hartnett SC, counsel for Mr Cassidy, of Ballintyre Walk, Ballinteer, Dublin, said gardaí obtained 28-day freezing orders against bank accounts linked to Mr Cassidy. The orders had been renewed on several occasions since. He said Mr Cassidy, who does not know why the accounts have been frozen, did not receive any notification of the initial freezing orders or the first three renewals of those orders.

Mr Hartnett said Mr Cassidy could not challenge the freezing orders unless he was provided with all the relevant information.

An application had been made unsuccessfully before Judge Cormac Dunne at the District Court for full disclosure of all the sworn information. The case is at hearing.