Belfast businessman Peter Curistan has launched a legal challenge to the validity of an administrator brought in to oversee a company which ran part of the Odyssey entertainment complex.
He has lodged papers at the High Court as part of a wider dispute with Anglo Irish Bank over a contested multi-million pound debt. Mr Curistan is director of Sheridan Millennium Ltd, which formerly owned a long-term lease on the Odyssey Pavilion area of bars and restaurants.
He is opposing Anglo's entitlement to bring in an administrator by claiming the company has no current liability to the bank.
Legal papers set out that the appointment came a day before a related High Court judgment which said a controversial deal involving the bank appeared "improper and unlawful".
Mr Curistan's legal team contend that the appointment of the administrator by Anglo does not comply with any of three statutory objectives to either:
- rescue the company as a going concern;
- achieve a better result for creditors than if it was wound up;
- realise property to make a distribution to one or more secured or preferential creditors.
He has alleged in legal documents that Anglo may have sought to appoint an administrator to "stymie" current legal proceedings by Sheridan Millennium against the bank.
A further hearing of the case is due to take place in the High Court later this month.
In April another of Mr Curistan's firms secured an injunction to restrain Anglo from winding it up. With SML said to have owed up to £80m to the Anglo Irish Bank in 2009, Mr Curistan wanted a buyer for his lease on the pavilion where several bars and restaurants are located.
During the proposed sale, which involved getting a buyer prepared to take on the debts, the bank identified the company PBN as its preferred bidder. However, in November 2009 the bank decided to pull the plug on that deal.
It is disputed whether this was because PBN was asking for too much or that the bank did not want to make a non-resource loan to PBN because one of its owners was among 10 clients given non recourse loans totalling €451m (£390) to buy shares in the bank.