Investors try to reclaim €8m allegedly paid for purchase of Ukrainian property

MORE than 50 investors are seeking the return of €8 million allegedly paid to two businessmen and an investment firm to fund a property scheme in the Ukraine since found to have defective legal title.

One investor said he had learned from documents he was “continually lied to about the whole investment project” and he also alleged the defendants treated the investors’ monies as their own personal monies.

Thomas Meyler said he believed the original €9.7m fund has reduced to €3.4m without any assets being acquired as the property was bought with a title since declared flawed.

The actions are being taken against Haydon (Private Clients) Ltd, trading as Haydon Investments Company (HIC), and Peter Haydon, with addresses at The Mall, Beacon Court, Sandyford, Dublin. Aidan Corless, of Kinvara, Westminster Road, Foxrock, Dublin, was also joined yesterday as a defendant.

It is claimed the defendants misused more than €5.2m of investors’ money to acquire a property at Kiev, Ukraine, in a manner intended to give the defendants additional profits unknown to the investors but the defendants ultimately acquired only defective title to the property.

It is alleged the defendants have continued to “waste” further monies over the past 18 months on legal fees and payments to themselves arising out of the defective title.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly was told yesterday it is being alleged investors transferred €8m to HIC under a scheme whereby it, using a Cypriot-based holding company Lemuranco Holdings Public Ltd and its Ukrainian-based subsidiary Lemuranco JSC Ukraine, would acquire a commercial property in Kiev.

Jarlath Ryan, who represents 46 investors and expects another nine to join the litigation, said no such interest was ever acquired. He said the investors had between them paid over sums of €7-8m.

He secured leave from the judge to serve short notice on the defendants of proceedings aimed at securing return of the monies and to prevent them reducing or dissipating assets.

In related earlier proceedings transferred to the Commercial Court yesterday, Quotumas Investments Ltd claims the Haydon defendants advertised in the Sunday Business Post in early March 2007 seeking investors for the Kiev project. Quotumas claims it invested €1m.

The firm claims the Kiev property was never purchased in the manner represented by the defendants to them and the Haydon defendants instead provided investment funds to Mr Corless to purchase the property in his own name. The defendants, it is alleged, were intent on creating an additional conveyancing layer so as to allow them sell on the Kiev property to the Cypriot company at a higher price, resulting in personal profit and gain to the defendants.

However, having purchased the property, it is claimed the defendants discovered their title in the property’s holding company, Allonge, was legally defective and Allonge’s ownership in the property was seriously flawed. Legal proceedings in Kiev ruled that the agreement by Allonge for the acquisition of the property was unlawful and void.

Counsel for Quotumas said it was endeavouring to establish the financial position of the Haydon defendants but documents discovered to date were unsatisfactory and tended to show the defendant company was insolvent. Counsel for Haydon said the documents had been given to Quotumas eight weeks ago and no complaint was received until now.

The judge said it would be a matter of concern for a company to continue to trade in a deficit situation. In an affidavit, Mr Meyler, a director of Quotumas, said Peter Haydon had represented himself as an investment and property expert with well-established relationships in the Ukraine with taxation, management, development and legal firms.

Mr Meyler said he agreed an oral contract to invest €1m by Quotumas on conditions including all investment monies would be held by the Cypriot firm that would purchase the Kiev property in its name and that Haydon had already invested US$2.25m (€1.7m) in the project.

He said Haydon did not make that investment but misrepresented they had and Quotumas later learned the Kiev property was not sold in the manner intended.

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