Billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien has alleged before the High Court that Declan Ganley has acted “maliciously” and out of “spite” in bringing proceedings against him over the award of the State’s second mobile phone licence to Esat Digifone.
Businessman Mr Ganley contends that Cellstar, a consortium with which he was involved and which unsuccessfully bid for the licence, lost out due to corruption in how the licence was awarded in 1996.
Mr Ganley and two of his companies will argue Cellstar would have won the licence had the process for awarding the licence not been corrupted by people including Mr O’Brien, argued Brian O’Moore SC, for Mr Ganley and the companies. Counsel was making submissions to Mr Justice Sean Ryan opposing an application by Mr O’Brien for orders directing two companies of Mr Ganley to provide security for costs of their action arising from the award of the licence to Esat Digifone.
The companies say they can fund the litigation via inter-company loans. While agreeing they are not able to meet any costs award that may be made to Mr O’Brien, they claim that is a result of how the licence competition was conducted.
The companies are Comcast International Holdings Incorporated, registered in the US, and Ganley International Ltd, registered in Britain. They, with Mr Ganley, have sued the minister for public enterprise; former Fine Gael minister Michael Lowry, the minister for communications when the licence was awarded; Esat Telecom; Mr O’Brien; and the State.
The Comcast side has agreed that a third plaintiff company, GCI Ltd, cannot remain as a plaintiff because it has been dissolved.
Persona, another unsuccesful bidder, has separately sued the minister for public enterprise and the State over the licence award. Both actions allege fraud, conspiracy, deceit, corruption, and misfeasance in public office in relation to the licence award.
The State, in separate proceedings, is seeking to have Mr O’Brien and Mr Lowry made liable for damages that might be awarded against it.
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