Letters sent by the fugitive leader of a mysterious property trust to a bank in relation to a €51m development loan have been dismissed as “nonsense” in the High Court.
Charlie Allen, who has been evading an arrest warrant since September, had written to AIB on behalf of the owners of the Submarine Bar and Ashleaf Shopping Centre in Crumlin. He told the bank he was serving a “Notice Re Fraud and Barratry” in relation to proceedings AIB took against Gary and Amanda Smith, of The Paddocks, Castledillon, Straffan, Co Kildare.
The Smiths were among thousands who paid to join Mr Allen’s Rodolphus Allen Family Private Trust with the aim of putting assets beyond the banks’ reach. This is the first to be put to the test in the High Court.
In 2007, the Smiths borrowed €50m to buy Ashleaf and attached pub. They were also given a €1m loan to buy 33 acres at Callighstown, Rathcoole, Co Dublin. In Jun 2008, Mr Smith unveiled a €25m redevelopment plan for the site. A receiver was appointed by AIB over their assets last February.
Yesterday, Mr Justice Peter Kelly said he was transferring the case to the Commercial Court after hearing there was no appearance on behalf of Mr Smith but there was for Mrs Smith, whose counsel said she knew nothing about Mr Allen’s involvement in the case. The judge described as “a piece of nonsense” correspondence sent to the bank by Mr Allen.
Kelley Smith, for AIB, told Mr Justice Kelly yesterday that from 2011 the Smiths had co-operated with the bank in efforts to deal with the debts. This continued after the appointment of the receiver.
However, counsel said, last September the “landscape changed” when the bank, its solicitors, and the receiver received a letter from “anti-eviction lobbyist” Mr Allen in relation to the Smith proceedings which was headed “Notice Re Fraud and Barratry”.
In it, Mr Allen warned that in the event that the receiver asserted interest over the assets related to the loans, he would take action to prevent interference with those assets.
Mark Sanfey SC, for Mrs Smith, said his client had nothing to do with the Allen correspondence and agreed with the judge’s description of it as nonsense.
The case will be heard in the Commercial Court on Jan 15.
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