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Archive for September 7th, 2012

This hasn’t been a good week for John McCabe with news that NAMA has had receivers appointed to four of his companies, just ahead of a winding up application by a supplier of manpower, MCR Personnel. As for John himself, it seems he is presently in the Middle East as reported on here, but he is in Bahrain, not Oman. And he is not involved in the property business but is in fact trying to retrieve an “advance fee” paid to a company called Western Gulf Advisory or “WGA” which appeared as a White Knight in 2010 with the prospect of investing €360m in McCabe’s companies but instead are understood to have demanded a €2m fee, which John now wants back.

In mid-2011, Britain’s Daily Mail carried a report which said that at least three businessmen were claiming that fees had been paid to WGA for loans which had never materialised. One of the businessmen was Australian property developer Keith Johnson who, according to the newspaper had paid A$2.45m to WGA for “setting up the loans”, some A$155m which were ultimately not advanced. The Sydney Morning Herald separately reported that a “group of Australian businessmen” had paid over A$100m for loans which again, never materialised, and that WGA bank accounts in Bahrain had been successfully frozen by Keith Johnson.

Frauds which involve upfront or advance fees paid over to secure much bigger funds, have been associated with Nigeria in the past where they have their own criminal code, 419. Typically it would have been the widow of a Nigerian general wanting to spirit millions out of the country to your bank account, if only you’d provide a few thousand up front to cover administration!

WGA is described as a Swiss-Bahraini based provider of loan and equity finance. Their website carries a contact address in Holland but no phone number or email address. The only contact email address on the website is career@westerngulfadvisory.com and a request for comment on this matter has not received a response.There are no longer any press releases and the only news shown on what is a flashy website is from February 2011. WGA was founded by Ahsan Ali Syed (pictured below), a 40-year old Indian national who the Sydney Morning Herald describes as “the Bernie Madoff of India”

A request for comment was also made to McCabe Builders, but none was received at time of writing.

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It will be next month when NAMA gets the chance to set out its case against developer Sean Dunne in the Connecticut Superior Court, but today the documents in the case – which are public, just not available online elsewhere – are brought to you here.

It’s a voluminous set of over 300 pages and has been painstakingly collected by hand from the courthouse in Stamford, Connecticut, scanned and made available here online. A small number of the documents don’t scan so well because they are photocopies with highlighting, and pages containing “Financial Disclosures” have been redacted presumably by the Court.

The story so far:

2008 – Sean and Gayle buy apartment in Geneva for CHF 4.7m
2010 – February, Sean transfers his interest in the Geneva apartment to Gayle
2010 – March, Gayle sells Geneva apartment for CHF 5.3m
2010 – April, Dunnes are associated with purchase of 38 Bush Avenue, Greenwich for USD 2m
2010 – December, Gayle sues former New York lawyers for return of USD 500,000
2010 –  NAMA acquires Sean Dunne’s loans from banks, and initiates discussion with Sean Dunne about his business plan. Sean Dunne submits business plan, together with statement of assets and details of transfers from him over the previous five years. Sean admitted to making five transfers in the previous five years.
2011 – January, Dunnes are associated with purchase of 42 Bote Road, Greenwich for USD 825,000. One week later, Dunnes are associated with the purchase of 22 Stillman Lane, Greenwich for USD 1.55m
2011 – May 22 Stillman Lane is transferred to a company called WAHL for USD 1
2011 – Gayle and the three adult Dunne children refuse to provide personal statements of affairs
2012 – March, NAMA secures €185,299,627.78 judgment against Sean Dunne in Dublin
2012 – April, 42 Bote Road is sold for USD 3m
2012 – July, 38 Bush Avenue is sold for USD 5m, NAMA applies to US courts

Here are the 300 documents as scanned. They may take some minutes to download

Part 1 (17mb)
Part 2 (13mb)
Part 3 (14mb)
Part 4 (14mb)

And here is the document which I think will be of most interest,  the affidavit of the NAMA Asset Recovery Manager, John Colemantogether with Exhibits.

In general the documents comprise:
NAMA’s application including its application for a temporary restraining order which was refused.
The NAMA affidavit from Asset Recovery Manager, John Coleman
NAMA’s applications for judgment by default because the Dunnes had not responded within two weeks to the applications served upon them
The refusal by the US courts to grant a temporary restraining order or grant an order by default
An application to have NAMA’s attorney recognised before the Connecticut courts

I am afraid that the Daily Mail in Ireland has trawled through the documentation and reported the meat of the contents, so there is isn’t really anything new here, but seeing the allegations in black-and-white and the way in which NAMA has constructed its case is eye-opening. NAMA’s chairman Frank Daly might have given developers the impression that their every move is being watched and recorded, but the evidence in the applications is that NAMA is to a large extent relying on information in the public domain. The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday seems to have been a major source of information. I was almost expecting thepropertypin.com or boards.ie to be cited a-la-Sean Quinn, but no, the information seems to have come from mostly mainstream sources.

The are only a few bits of information that were new to me – in February 2011, NAMA wrote to Sean Dunne after suggestions were made that Sean had “court ordered legal obligations” to Gayle and the children and secondly that NAMA was concerned about the financial support being given to Sean’s son, John who was attending university upto May 2011. Sean’s response to NAMA is tetchy and dismisses what he calls “idle press speculation” and he also criticises attention on events that pre-dated the foundation of NAMA. Thirdly, it seems that there are no flies on NAMA when they seek confirmation from Sean that he has no tax refunds forthcoming. Fourthy NAMA sought to have their application approved because Sean Dunne was allegedly served with the application on 24th July 2012 but failed to enter a response  by 7th August 2012.

So far, the American judges have sided with the Dunnes refusing the temporary restraining order and also refusing the default application.

It seems the Dunnes were served not at 421 Field Point Road, the USD 17,500 a month gaff colourfully reported about in the Daily Mail, but at 526 Indian Field Road also in GreenwichConnecticut.

The case is set to be heard in Connecticut from 9.30am on 22nd October 2012.

Lastly remember you are reading NAMA’s side of the story, a story which the US judge didn’t find compelling enough to grant the temporary restraining order requested. You have not yet heard the Dunnes’ side of the story, and given that Gayle Dunne didn’t provide a statement of affairs to NAMA, then there may well be legitimate reasons to have amassed wealth in her own right.

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