Investors in Turkey claim money back


TWENTY-EIGHT Irish couples who invested millions in a Turkish apartments development have been granted High Court permission to issue and serve claims for their money back on the developers.

An application by Nigel and Maria Whyte, Ballinerla, Kilmacow, Co Kilkenny, to serve summonses outside the European Union was yesterday granted by Mr Justice Kevin Feeney.

Robert Beatty, counsel for the Whytes and 27 other couples, said their solicitors Mason Hayes Curran had already obtained an injunction in the Dutch courts freezing €4,329,000 they had paid into investment funds in the Netherlands.

Mr Beatty said it was his clients' intention to issue proceedings seeking rescission (setting aside) of contracts to purchase apartments at the Orient Palace resort at Bodrum in Turkey and have their money, in some cases more than €100,000, refunded.

Irish, British and other investors paid more than €30 million in 2005 for apartments in Bodrum which were supposed to have been built and completed by the end of 2006.

Mr Beatty told the court they had also been promised a 10 per cent rental return on their money on completion of the apartments, but as yet none of the apartments had been completed.

Yesterday's proceedings were launched against the Turkish company, Euro Holding AS, which, Mr Beatty said, claimed to own the property where 188 apartments were to be developed in a new five-star resort of 1,000 units. He said it now transpired they did not own the property.

Robin Donagh, a solicitor with Mason Hayes Curran, stated in an affidavit that the Irish investors had been sold two-bed apartments with a rental guarantee of 10 per cent per annum starting early 2007. Construction was to have been completed in September 2006 but instead the development is now an unfinished shell.

There had been no further construction for more than 12 months and completion seemed unlikely.

He said Euro Holding had either acted as principal or in partnership with Unifin Groep BV, a Dutch-registered company with offices in Arnhem.

Mr Donagh said these two companies engaged with three other defendants, Turkey Real Estate Direct Ltd, Thomas Collins (Auctioneers) Ltd trading as Remax Associates; Celturk Ltd, trading as Astute Property International, and Med Dreams Property, in extensively advertising and marketing the development to Irish consumers. Unifin Groep had been legally established under Dutch law to market, sell and collect all purchase money for the development on behalf of Euro Holding.

Investors had been told they could secure apartments for a 60 per cent payment of the purchase price in advance of construction and would earn 10 per cent a year rental as well as have personal use of their apartment for six weeks per annum.

He said the Irish investors had paid the money by way of transfers to Unifin Groep/Euro Holding.

The representation stated in a purchase contract that Euro Holding was the legal owner of the site in Bodrum was false.

Mr Donagh said that as soon as the Irish investors realised they had been induced by false representation, they repudiated the contracts and were seeking acceptance that the contracts stood rescinded. Later it had been confirmed the land belonged to an Atif Harmanda and not Euro Holding.

Mr Beatty told the court that the 28 Irish purchasers had banded together in a bid to obtain the return of their money.

They had already obtained orders in the Arnhem District Court freezing €4,329,000 held in an account in Arnhem until the outcome of legal proceedings by the Irish group.