Yesterday morning, the BBC reported that Peter Curistan, the Belfast property developer behind the Odyssey Pavillion in Belfast, and the Parnell Centre shopping centre on Parnell Street in Dublin city centre, had been declared bankrupt on 21st December 2012. He was a prominent borrower from Anglo Irish Bank – now IBRC, Irish Bank Resolution Corporation – and has been involved in a series of litigation – last June 2012, he lost a case in Dublin’s High Court where IBRC was pursuing a loan on the Parnell Centre though that judgment has been appealed to the Supreme Court and the latest on that, in October 2012, is Peter’s solicitors have come “off record”.
Peter also has apparently ongoing litigation against IBRC in Northern Ireland which gave rise to the first judicial assessment of the so-called Maple 10 transaction, where 10 businessmen were loaned money by Anglo to invest in Anglo shares; the judge in Belfast said the transaction was “a prima facie improper and unlawful proceeding” Peter has even recently reported IBRC to the UK police and Irish gardai for alleged shady dealings.
IBRC famously took robust legal action to reverse Sean Quinn’s bankruptcy in Belfast, and it was successful and subsequently had Sean declared bankrupt in Dublin. It seems unlikely that IBRC would contest the legitimacy of Peter’s bankruptcy in Belfast though there are similarities between the two: both born in Northern Ireland, both having business interests in Northern Ireland and the Republic but Sean lives in the Republic, has an Irish passport and pays most of his taxes on this side of the Border. Unlike NAMA, IBRC is not neutral on bankruptcy location, and Minister Noonan told the Dail last year
“I am advised by IBRC that the approach of the Bank is to work constructively with each borrower on an individual basis to identify the most appropriate loan repayment plan. IBRC takes a very serious view of borrowers seeking bankruptcy in other jurisdictions as a means of circumventing the repayment of monies owed to the Bank. Where necessary, and as has occurred previously, the Bank will pursue borrowers to ensure bankruptcy is declared in what it deems to be the correct jurisdiction, with the ultimate goal of maximising recovery of loans for the Bank”
Peter (57) was born in Belfast, was involved in developments in Northern Ireland, the Republic and mainland Britain – he gave an extensive interview here to the Belfast Telegraph in 2007 about his life and career. Although he is a developer and although he had Anglo development loans over the NAMA threshold of €5m, he has not been associated with the Agency and it seems that he is one of the developers whose loans remained at Anglo.