ALLIED IRISH BANKS is seeking €26 million from Cork businessman and developer John Fleming, on loans used to buy into a US energy company.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly transferred the case to the Commercial Court yesterday and listed it for Friday for the purpose of having Mr Fleming’s lawyers outline the basis of any defence.
Bill Shipsey SC, for AIB, said the bank does not believe Mr Fleming, who now lives in England, has any defence.
The claim arises from a guarantee allegedly executed by Mr Fleming on May 20, 2008, of all liabilities of Fleming Energy, with registered offices at New Cork Road, Bandon, Co Cork, to AIB to a maximum sum of €26 million.
AIB claims the guarantee was part of the security provided for credit facilities advanced by it to Fleming Energy, a subsidiary of the JJ Fleming group of companies.
The company is part of a group controlled and operated by Mr Fleming, now said to be living at Holbrook Close, Billericay, Essex, England.
It is claimed the main loan provided to Fleming Energy was for a sum of $32.4m, advanced in June 2007, to assist with the purchase of a 51% shareholding in Plymouth Energy LLC, a company registered in the US and established to purchase and develop a 57-acre site in Iowa.
It is claimed, while Fleming Energy had paid off sums due under two letters of credit, the primary loan facility was undischarged and some $32.8m was due and owing by Fleming Energy under that facility.
It is also alleged the company owes an additional €1.26m in relation to a current account.
AIB said it had agreed not to demand repayment of the loans while companies in the Fleming group were under court protection but, after the period of protection was ended last March, demands were issued for repayment.
Also last March, the bank had issued a demand under Mr Fleming’s guarantee and some €25.9m was now due and owing, it claims.
The High Court last March appointed a liquidator to three insolvent companies in the Fleming building group, which has debts of more than €1 billion, following the Supreme Court’s decision to end court protection for them on the basis they had advanced no reasonable survival schemes.
Fleming, originally from Seven Heads Peninsula in West Cork, founded the Fleming Group in 1975. It acquired Tivway in 2006.
His construction group, a major employer, has been involved in major operations, including some of this country’s biggest industrial and pharmaceutical projects over the years.
Fleming is scheduled to have his loans transferred to the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) later this month.
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