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News : Irish Last Updated: Oct 7, 2009 - 8:47:59 AM

Supreme Court rejects Zoe application for court protection; Liam Carroll’s 51-company group faces impending collapse
By Finfacts Team
Oct 6, 2009 - 12:03:52 PM

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The Gas Works apartment complex in South Dublin, which was built by developer Liam Carroll.

The Supreme Court today rejected developer Liam Carroll’s insolvent Zoe property group application for court protection of 100 days from creditors via the examinership process. The group of 51 companies faces impending collapse.

The court found the group’s second case for protection was an abuse of court process.

The ruling prevents Zoe from going ahead with another High Court application to appoint an examiner to key Zoe companies.

Last month, the High Court refused the for examinership by seven companies in the Zoe group. Mr Justice Frank Clarke had criticised the presentation of figures in Big 4 accounting firm KPMG's business plan.

He said the accounts were "either presented in a very poor way or just plain wrong."

He said he took a "very serious view" of how the company presented its income figures. He said there were "many inaccuracies in the material."

The examinership was opposed by ACCBank, which is owed €136 million.

Seven companies of the 51 in Carroll's group had applied for protection. The companies have debts of about  €1.3 billion and the KPMG plan forecast a surplus of €10 million over a three to five year period, on the assumption of a recovery in the Irish property market. Part of the plan included the non-payment of interest for two years on its debts, owed to eight banks.

Zoe has total bank debts of almost €3 billion.

The examinership was opposed by Dutch-owned ACC Bank, which is owed €136 million.

Today, a panel of three judges of the Supreme Court, granted ACC Bank’s appeal against a decision by Mr Justice John Cooke to allow Zoe bring a new application for protection, the first having been refused by both the High and Supreme Courts.

The Chief Justice, Mr Justice John Murray, said the group had relied on material evidence in its second petition which it had consciously and deliberately chosen not to put before the courts in the first petition despite that evidence being available to, or obtainable by it, on the first occasion.

He said while there was no bad faith by the group, the bringing of the second petition in such circumstances was an abuse of the process of the courts and it should proceed no further, he said.

The Chief Justice said the court will give its full reasoned judgment for its decision on October 14th next when the group’s separate appeal against winding up orders for some Zoe companies will also be mentioned. The issue of costs of the protection proceedings will also be addressed on the same date.

The application for protection was by Vantive Holdings and Morsten Investments (the main units in the Zoe group); Villeer Developments; Peytor Developments; Carragh Enterprises Ltd; Parlez International Ltd and Royceton.

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