Developer tells court Caribbean transfers were legitimate

A CORK developer who transferred money from a construction project in the Caribbean to bank accounts in Carrigaline and Bishopstown has told the High Court they were legitimate transfers for personal and business purposes.

Barrister Marie Baker SC, seeking to have a mareva injunction lifted against Paudie O’Halloran, who has addresses in Barbados and Cork, said he had disclosed his accounts which openly showed the trail of money into Ireland.

Two Caribbean companies are suing 40-year-old Mr O’Halloran over allegedly diverting for his own use and transferring to Ireland €1.14 million from a hotel building contract in the Caribbean. They obtained a mareva injunction last month restraining him from dissipating his assets here below €1.6m.

Ms Baker, who appeared with Eoin Clifford for Mr O’Halloran, said he ran a substantial engineering business and was operating internationally. He planned setting up a new engineering business in Cork and it was in his interests to have the injunction lifted.

She said Mr O’Halloran had just purchased an €800,000 property in Innishannon and only recently had leased two substantial commercial units at Penrose Wharf in Cork where he intended setting up his new business.

Ms Baker said Mr O’Halloran had been reared in Cork and his parents Donal, 78, and his 81-year-old mother still lived there at Ballinaspig Lawn, Bishopstown. His father had given evidence of completing the financial transfers for his son and an injunction against him had earlier been lifted by consent.

Ms Baker said Mr O’Halloran had been accused of a lack of candour by David Ames, Essex, England, owner of the two companies suing him, Harlequin Property (SVG) Ltd and Harlequin Hotels and Resorts Ltd. Court proceedings had been taken out in the Caribbean, Britain and now in Ireland.

She told Mr Justice John Hedigan that her client would be challenging the veracity of emails allegedly sent by him to Trisha Young, a former employee.

In the emails he allegedly had admitted to spending tens of thousands of dollars on his former girlfriend, Englishwoman Suzanne Floyd, of Viburnum Close, Goddington Park, Ashford, Kent, who is also being sued by Mr Ames.

The court heard the allegations against him were “unsubstantiated, untrue and highly prejudicial” and that the emails were forgeries.

Ms Baker said Mr O’Halloran had been entitled to draw down money under the oral contract he had made with Mr Ames regarding the building of a hotel. The amount of money transferred to Ireland by him amounted to just 3% of monies paid by Mr Ames to date. The contract had never been completed.

She said there was no evidence Mr O’Halloran had shown an intention of moving assets from the jurisdiction of the court and had in fact invested in property here.

Judge Hedigan granted an adjournment to barrister John Breslin, counsel for Mr Ames and his companies, to allow further time to lodge replying affidavits. The court also directed that Mr O’Halloran could pay €61,000 from his bank accounts to secure the lease on the Penrose Wharf units.

Judge Hedigan said he would leave the injunction in place until the matter comes before a Commercial Court sitting next month.

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