Lone director faces angry hotel creditors

 

Two of the three listed directors of Cristeeg Catering, the company which ran the Holiday Inn hotel in Pearse St, Dublin, did not attend a creditors' meeting held in Dublin yesterday.

An American businessman, Mr Kent Gross, with an address at the Blainroe Golf Hotel in Co Wicklow, and Mr Robinson Callen, with an address in Florida were not present to speak to creditors.

The third director, Mr Charles Daly, chairman of Cristeeg Catering, read a prepared statement and responded to questions.

A directors' estimated statement of affairs shows that Cristeeg Catering has inter-company debtors of some £1,140,000 (#1,447,501) but will realise no money from these. These payments to affiliated companies are likely to come under scrutiny from the appointed liquidator.

Mr Daly said the company encountered difficulties following "extremely disappointing" income produced by the hotel over the past two and a half years. However, he said it had been his view that, until February this year, the company could trade out of these difficulties.

He said the company had run into problems following a fire on the third floor of the Blainroe hotel in Co Wicklow in September 1997.

He said the company's losses were £200,000 by July 1998 and it was facing pressure from lending institutions. He said this caused the company to dispose of the Blainroe Golf Hotel at a poor selling price in March 1999.

The directors' estimated statement of affairs shows the company has more than 100 creditors. It owes the Revenue Commissioners in excess of £600,000, Dublin Corporation more than £100,000, its own solicitors Ivor Fitzpatrick & Co in excess of £40,000, and J & J Harmon £40,000.

Before the creditors' meeting yesterday, Cristeeg Catering held an e.g.m. and formally placed the company in liquidation. The company-appointed liquidator Mr Michael Butler stood down and Mr Tom Kavanagh was approved at the creditors' meeting.

Earlier this week, the High Court heard how Cristeeg Catering appeared to have disposed of its interest in the Holiday Inn hotel for a "valuable sum" to Millura, a company about which little was known. When the appointed receiver to Cristeeg Catering, Mr Pearse Farrell, tried to gain access to the hotel last week he was refused access and told Cristeeg Catering no longer operated the hotel.

The court made an order permitting the receiver to manage and operate the Holiday Inn until the case came to court next Monday.

Mr Daly was asked by a creditor at yesterday's meeting about the company, which had been managing the Holiday Inn for the past few weeks. Mr Daly said there was no cross shareholding or common directors between it and Cristeeg Catering.

Several creditors expressed disapproval at yesterday's meeting. A representative of Irish Distillers, which is owed some £1,169, said the company's deficiencies were substantial and, contrary to Mr Daly's prepared statement, it would have been known long before February that these were irretrievable.

A representative of William Fry solicitors, Mr Kenneth Morgan, acting on behalf of Mercury Engineering Ltd, said the discourtesy displayed by the company to all the creditors was outrageous. He said Mercury Engineering was owed £64,000 by Cristeeg Catering but the company had not been informed of the creditors' meeting nor included on the list of creditors.

Mr Daly said this was an "accidental omission". He added that this debt was currently on appeal before the courts. Two further court cases involving the company are pending.