Businessman ordered to repay bank €12m from investment loans

A BUSINESSMAN has beenordered by the Commercial Court to repay to ACC Bank €12 million arising from loans made to him over a five-year period for property and other investments.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern yesterday granted judgment in that amount on the application of Bernard Dunleavy, for ACC, against Francis Tiernan, Anne Street, Dundalk, Co Louth.

Mr Tiernan was not in court and his counsel Paul McDermott SC was earlier permitted by the judge to withdraw from the case, because of what counsel described as matters of concern raised by the bank in a replying affidavit received this week.

Mr McDermott said, given those matters, there was “very little” he could say and added there had been difficulty in contacting Mr Tiernan in recent days.

In the bank’s affidavit referred to, the bank said Mr Tiernan had sworn untrue statements in his own affidavit relating to a €7.6m loan advanced to him in July 2006 for the purchase of lands at Naas, Co Kildare. The bank referred to having received, on April 15 last, a letter from solicitors acting for a man who claimed he had negotiated a sale of the Naas lands with Mr Tiernan, but Mr Tiernan had never completed the purchase.

Mr Dunleavy said the solicitors’ letter was written to the bank in response to an Irish Times report of separate proceedings by ACC against its former solicitor, Brian Johnston, for alleged failure to put securities in place relating to loans to Mr Tiernan.

The solicitor’s letter stated the purchaser had forwarded the title deeds for the lands to the solicitor then acting for Mr Tiernan relating to the proposed purchase but the title deeds had to date not been returned, despite requests.

The letter also stated the seller had instructed proceedings be issued against Mr Tiernan, but the solicitors had been unable to serve those proceedings on him.

The bank was responding to assertions by Mr Tiernan in his affidavit that he was unable to complete the €10m purchase of the Naas lands due to what he alleged was the inability of the bank’s solicitor to produce the deeds.

Mr Tiernan had claimed the deeds would have enabled him to complete the purchase and he would then have been able to repay the bank monies then due and owing.

Mr Dunleavy said Mr Tiernan had not disputed most of the loans made, but had argued the bank had securities in place sufficient to discharge some of those. Mr Tiernan had also disputed the extent of the debts.

Mr Dunleavy added Mr Tiernan had also claimed one of those loans was made to a named furniture company, but a companies office search had disclosed no such company was registered and the loan documents indicated the loan was made to Mr Tiernan himself.

The court also heard ACC had earlier this month initiated proceedings against its former solicitor, Brian Johnston, practicing as Brian Johnston & Company Solicitors, Park Street, Dundalk, Co Louth, over his alleged failure to put in place necessary securities for commercial loans made by it to Mr Tiernan.

Counsel for Mr Johnston previously indicated they may seek to join a third party to that action. On the evidence and submissions, Mr Justice McGovern said he was satisfied to enter judgment in the amount sought, plus interest and costs.


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