Former AIB manager consents to judgment of €37.1m against him

A former general manager of business banking with AIB has consented before the Commercial Court to entry of €37.2m judgment against him in favour of Nama over unpaid loans mostly issued for property investments.

Separate proceedings to decide if Thomas Hopkins is liable for further sums totalling more than €17m will be subject of full plenary hearings due to his raising arguable defences to those claims.

His wife is disputing liability for €11m loans.

In one set of proceedings, National Assets Loan Management Ltd, a Nama company, sued Mr Hopkins, Palmerston Park, Rathmines, Dublin, and Thomas Durcan, Terenure Road East, Terenure, Dublin, for €43.5m and €37.1m respectively over loans made by Bank of Ireland and former Anglo Irish Bank, now Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

Those facilities were part of a portfolio of loans advanced to the defendants and others by AIB, BoI, and Anglo, all of which were acquired by Nama in 2010. Bank of Ireland was the lead participating institution in that portfolio, identified as the Hopkins connection, and the loans were issued for purposes including buying development lands at Bettystown, Co Meath; Bessboro, Terenure, Dublin and Blackhall Place, Dublin.

Mr Durcan previously consented to judgment for €37.1m and Mr Hopkins, who accepted he had a liability but raised issues about the accuracy of figures from Nama, yesterday also consented to judgment for €37.1m of the €43.5m claimed.

He disputes liability for the remainder and NALM’s consent to having that matter sent to a full plenary hearing indicated it accepted he had raised an arguable defence, Mr Justice Peter Kelly said.

In a second action, NALM is suing Mr Hopkins and his wife Mairead for sums of €2.84m and £7.02m (€8.8m) arising from various facilities and guarantees.

The couple deny liability and Mr Justice Kelly decided this week they had raised an arguable defence to the claims entitling them to a full plenary hearing.

Among the issues raised are claims by the couple, when borrowing as a trustee, liability is limited to trust funds.

Mr Justice Kelly noted there was evidence Mr Hopkins had told AIB other banks had sought personal guarantees concerning the trust loans but AIB had decided not to.

Mr Hopkins had also complained a UK property fell in value from €6.5m to €4.5m while Nama allegedly delayed in considering his request to sell it.

In opposing the claim for judgment against her, Mrs Hopkins alleges she was unaware, when signing the loan documents related to setting up an investment trust for the couple’s three children, the loans were secured on her family home and she could be held personally liable for them. She understood recourse for the loans was limited to trust properties.

Her counsel Dermot Cahill said Mr Hopkins had misrepresented to her the nature of the loan facilities by failing to explain they were secured on her home and she could he held personally liable for them. AIB had an obligation to ensure she was aware of the nature of the facilities and had independent legal advice.

Aidan Redmond, counsel for Nama, disputed those and other claims. Mrs Hopkins’ husband was a director and senior lending manager with AIB whose expertise was “superior to any solicitor’s”, counsel argued. Her complaint appeared to be she did not get the benefit of a deal agreed with her husband which was to the detriment of his creditors, counsel submitted.


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