FG junior minister and wife consent to €2.47m judgment

Unpaid loans secured against properties including Ballymote store and restaurant


Fine Gael Minister of State for Small Business John Perry and his wife have consented to judgment for €2.47 million being entered against them at the Commercial Court over unpaid loans.

Danske Bank issued the loans in October 2011, to be repaid by by November 2012, to restructure existing loans and an overdraft account, and provide €25,000 towards tax affairs.

The loans were secured by first legal mortgages over property including Perry’s Hardware store and the Stone Park restaurant at Main Street, Ballymote, Co Sligo.

The bank claimed, before issuing proceedings for judgment, it made “extensive endeavours” to reach an accommodation with the couple, including several letters and meetings during 2012 and 2013, to try and find a solution to their indebtedness.

The couple, of Carrownanty, Ballymote, “continually failed, neglected or refused to make payments, provide information, adhere to agreed timeframes or co-operate in any meaningful way” with the bank or its agents, it claimed.

Danske also alleged it complied at all material times with the code of conduct for business lending to small and medium enterprises.

In March and October 2012 it issued letters under that code asking if the couple were in financial difficulties and drawing their attention to the information and resources available to them if that was the case.

The bank said it also made clear in November 2012 to John Nolan, the couple’s new financial adviser, a response to various matters was required within two weeks.

While some repayments were made, total repayments amounted to €57,134.

It also claimed Mr Perry cancelled various meetings with it before attending a meeting at Danske’s offices at Kildare Street, Dublin, last April 17th, when he indicated he was seeking funds from AIB.

Mr Perry also said he knew Richie Boucher of Bank of Ireland and would progress a refinancing proposal with him, Danske said.

On May 23rd, after Mr Perry said AIB was still considering the matter, Danske said it made clear it would be instructing its solicitors on May 29th to proceed to seek judgment.

Yesterday, counsel for Mr Perry and his wife Marie told Mr Justice Peter Kelly that while they contradicted some matters in the bank’s affidavits they accepted they had no bona defence to judgment and were consenting to judgment for €2,474,346.

The judge entered judgment in that amount but granted the couple a stay to September 2nd on execution and registration of that.

Counsel had sought a three-month stay to allow the Perrys time to advance restructuring proposals, but Rossa Fanning, for Danske, opposed a stay of that duration, saying there had been ample time for that and no satisfactory proposals had been made.

The judge said he would not grant the three months but would grant a stay to September 2nd. Given the couple’s attitude to the bank’s application, he added he would award costs only at the lowest level – €190 – against them.

Earlier the judge said he had met Mr Perry “for about two minutes” at a reception given after a lecture delivered by the judge and asked the sides whether they had any objection to his dealing with the matter. Both parties indicated no difficulty.

The October 2011 loan facility for €2.42 million was secured by first legal mortgages over a retail premises, the Stone Park restaurant and Perry’s Hardware, all of Main Street, Ballymote, plus first charges over some 50 acres of agricultural lands at Ballymote and Clooncose.

Danske said that the final repayment date was November 19th, 2012.

The bank claimed the couple failed to keep up the interim repayments required under the terms of the facility. No payment was received until a €1,000 payment was made in February 2012, when the balance of the repayments due was about €24,106 and the total repaid was €57,134.

Total sum
Last March it demanded immediate payment of the total sum outstanding, with interest, of about €2.47 million.

Last May it demanded repayment within seven days and noted interest was still accruing on the sum owed.

In an affidavit, the bank said Mr Perry phoned it in December 2011 saying rent payments from the supermarket in Ballymote would not start until January 2012, due to rent deductions.

That meant the first loan facility repayment was missed and, while €7,263 was due on February 20th, 2012, only €1,000 was received.

It also outlined discussions with Mr Perry as to why rental sums were not coming through as per cash projections provided by him.