Sunday, 28 March 2010

DDDA denies making representations

The Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) has denied it or its former CEO Paul Maloney made “representations” to developer Bernard McNamara which induced him to get involved in a joint bid with the authority for the Irish Glass Bottle (IGB) site at Ringsend and caused him massive losses.

While Mr Maloney had written to Mr McNamara in October 2006 concerning the site, the DDDA has denied he “represented” the DDDA could fast-track permission for its development or could procure a Luas route to the site, Mr Justice Peter Kelly was told today.

The DDDA also pleads any losses suffered by Mr McNamara and Donatex over the IGB site acquisition are not attributable to its alleged failure to fast track permission for the site as, it claims, such permission always had to be approved by the Minister for the Environment.

In Commercial Court proceedings against the DDDA, Mr McNamara has claimed these and other alleged “representations” by Mr Maloney persuaded him to get involved in bidding for the site and ultimately exposed him to claims of more than €108 million.

He claims, following a High Court finding in 2008 the DDDA acted outside its powers in how it fast-tracked permission for another docklands development at North Wall Quay, the DDDA was never entitled to enter in November 2006 into an agreement involving himself and developer Derek Quinlan related to development of the site.

The DDDA was unable to perform its obligations under that IGB agreement and had therefore frustrated the ability of Mr McNamara and others to develop the site, meaning very substantial losses for them, it is alleged.

Mr McNamara said he faced potential claims totalling more than €108 million on foot of loans raised from Anglo Irish Bank and private investors with Davy Property Holdings Ltd and also on foot of personal guarantees given by him over those loans.

The proceedings by Mr McNamara, Ailesbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin, and his company Donatex Ltd, Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge, against the DDDA were before Mr Justice Kelly today to deal with discovery issues.

The sides had agreed most of the discovery matters but disagreed about the time length for discovery of documents related to alleged “representations” by the DDDA to the plaintiffs which allegedly led to the agreement of November 2006.

The DDDA was prepared to discover documents from September 2006 to January 2007, when the formal contract was signed, but Mr McNamara’s side argued such discovery should extend up to the time their proceedings issued.

Mr Justice Kelly ruled discovery up to January 2007 relating to the alleged representations was adequate and the additional discovery sought was irrelevant and not necessary.

In his case, Mr McNamara claims the Dublin Port Company and South Wharf plc had advertised the IGB site for sale by tender in September 2006. He claims Mr Maloney approached him a month later about becoming involved with the DDDA and submitting a bid for the site. Mr McNamara said he initially indicated he was not interested as he believed it would not be possible to generate a profit.

He claims Mr Maloney made several later representations to him, including the DDDA could procure a route for the Luas to the site and, as planning authority, could “fast-track” any application for permission for development without the risk of appeals to An Bord Pleanála by others.

It was in those circumstances Mr McNamara alleges he would be prepared to consider a joint bid with the DDDA for the site, it is claimed. Beebay Ltd was later incorporated and used by Mr McNamara and the DDDA to bid for the site.

Mempal Ltd, a company controlled by Mr Quinlan, later acquired an interest in Beebay. In November 2006, Donatex held 41 per cent, Mempal 33 per cent and DDDA 26 per cent of Beebay.

Beebay acquired the site for some €412 million with funds of some €288 million from Anglo Irish Bank (later converted into a joint facility provided by Anglo and Allied Irish Bank), €57.5 million from Donatex, €32.1 million from the DDDA and €46.3 million from Mempal.

Mr McNamara claims it was a condition of the loans to Beebay he provide a guarantee for €41 million of the sum advanced to Beebay and also for 41 per cent of all interest payable by Beebay.

The funds provided by Donatex were sourced from private clients of Davy Property Holdings Ltd (Davy) who last January secured judgment for €62.5 million against Mr McNamara under his personal guarantee over loans to Donatex. The investors also obtained €98 million judgment against Donatex.

Irish Times

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