Businessman brings High Court challenge against appointment of receiver over Waterford lands

Aodhan O'Faolain

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Aodhan O'Faolain

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Businessman brings High Court challenge against appointment of receiver over Waterford lands

An engineer and businessman has brought a High Court challenge against a financial fund's appointment of a receiver over lands in County Waterford

The action has been brought by Mr Patrick Wheelock who claims that Mr Stephen Tennant of Grant Thornton has been unlawfully and invalidly appointed as receiver by Promontoria (Arrow) Ltd over his lands at Monvoy, County Waterford, in early October. 

This is because Mr Wheelock claims his signatures on deeds of mortgage, which purport to charge his interest in the lands in favour of the now defunct Anglo Irish Bank over the lands, are forgeries and not his signatures. 

Mr Wheelock, represented by Jim O'Callaghan SC and Padraic Lyons Bl, claims the forged signatures render the deeds of mortgage void, invalid and without legal effect. 

Mr O'Callaghan told the High Court on Tuesday that his client never agreed to mortgage or charge the lands in favour of Anlgo and was entirely unaware of the purported charges until 2014.

In 2014, Mr Wheelock sued his former accountant and financial advisor who he claimed engaged in an elaborate fraud and misappropriated €7.9m from him.  

It was also claimed the accountant falsified Mr Wheelock's signature on several documents and letters including on deeds of mortgage, dated 2003 and 2008, purportedly creating a security interest in favour of Anglo over the Monvoy lands. 

In that action, the accountant claimed Mr Wheelock had authorised him to sign documents on his behalf. Mr O'Callaghan told the court that was "vehemently denied" by his client. 

Counsel said the action against the accountant was settled in 2017 without any judicial determination being made about the alleged falsification of documents. 

Counsel said that the purported mortgages made in favour of Anglo in 2003 and 2008 were acquired by NAMA, who were made aware of the allegations concerning the false signatures in 2014.

Counsel said NAMA sold the mortgages to Promontoria in 2017, who were also informed of the allegations concerning the alleged false signatures on the deeds. 

Counsel said Promontoria have brought proceedings seeking judgement against Mr Wheelock, which are currently before the Commercial Court. 

Promontoria's decision to appoint a receiver was an attempt to leapfrog the commercial court proceedings, counsel said.  

Counsel said when the purported mortgages were held by NAMA, it had appointed a statutory receiver over the Monvoy lands. When issues over the alleged forged signatures were made known to NAMA, that receiver was stood down, counsel said. 

As a result of the receiver's appointment, and refusal to given undertakings not to dispose of the property Mr Wheelock now seeks orders preventing the receiver from selling or advertising for sale or disposing of lands at Monvoy.

Counsel said Mr Wheelock, a piping design engineer of Moneyhore, Enniscorthy, County Wexford, intends to develop the lands at Monvoy.  

The matter came before Mr Justice Tony O 'Connor who granted Mr Wheelock's lawyers permission, on an ex parte basis, to serve short notice of proceedings against Mr Tennant and Promontoria.

The judge made the matter returnable to Friday's sitting of the court.