Belfast Telegraph

Bid to sell Ready Mix Concrete property 'tainted'

A sealed bid process to sell off the concreting property of two Belfast brothers said to be in £6 million debt to the former Anglo Irish Bank was tainted, a High Court judge has found.

Mr Justice Deeny backed claims made by Donal and Ronan O'Kane over the method used in attempts to recover some of the money owed the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).

Details emerged as he granted a temporary injunction restraining the sale of land and premises by the receivers.

There is no suggestion of any fault on the part of IBRC.

The case centres on the Ready Mix Concrete business at Upper Dunmurry Lane in Belfast.

Allegations made by the O'Kanes included a suspicion that the ultimate highest bidder was advised by the selling agents not to go above £550,000 during the open bidding process because they would get it for that. 

According to the judge corroboration was provided by a "remarkable" solicitors' letter to the agents expressing concern at the situation.

"Now that we have this strong prima facie evidence of some bad faith for some reason not yet known to the court on the part of the agents of the defendants the whole decision to proceed to a sealed bid is tainted by that bad faith," he said.  

"It seems to me (the O'Kanes' barrister) is right in that the sealed bid process is tainted."

There is no suggestion of any bad faith on the part of IBRC.

On that basis he held an arguable case had been established that the sale process should be set aside. 

The judge noted that the best bid on the table was £650,000 - £60,000 more than an offer advanced by friends of the O'Kanes.

He acknowledged the argument that the brothers' bid to secure these premises may be unrealistic.

But they are still earning are funding this litigation, he pointed out.

In a ruling delivered two weeks ago but only now published, Mr Justice Deeny decided to grant a 21-day injunction subject to a £30,000 payment into court by the plaintiffs.

He confirmed the defendants were then free to resell the property - but not by auction or a sealed process.

He also directed that two people named in the papers should have no involvement in the sale.

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