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Developer Curistan in £100m damages claim against bank

By Alan Erwin

Published 10/06/2016

Legal action: Peter Curistan
Legal action: Peter Curistan

Belfast property magnate Peter Curistan is claiming £100m damages in his High Court action against the former Anglo Irish Bank.

The developer, who built the city's Odyssey entertainment complex before being declared bankrupt and being banned as a company director, is suing for alleged fraud.

It was indicated in court yesterday that his case against the defendant, now known as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, is unlikely to go to trial before next May.

Forensic accountants and other expert witnesses are to be enlisted by both sides before the legal battle gets under way.

As well as claiming fraud, Mr Curistan's writ alleges breach of duty and negligence over the process to find a buyer for his long-term lease in the venue.

The businessman is suing in a personal capacity after previous litigation was brought in the name of Sheridan Millennium, a company he ran before it went into administration in 2011.

Last month Mr Curistan, who developed the Odyssey Pavilion before losing control of it to Anglo, was disqualified from being a company director for six years.

He was also declared bankrupt back in 2012.

But he has continued with a series of legal actions involving the bank.

In one case a High Court judge drew attention to a so-called 'Golden Circle' arrangement where the bank loaned 10 of its clients €450m (£352m) which they then used to buy shares in the bank.

The scheme was said to have been designed to prevent a large number of shares being sold on the open market which would have depressed the bank's value.

At that stage the judge said the transaction appeared to be "improper and unlawful".

Papers lodged in the renewed case against Anglo focus on claims around how the bank identified one of its clients as a potential purchaser for the leases in around 2008-09.

It is alleged that the management of the process amounted to a "shadow directorship".

Other, better placed potential purchasers were ignored, according to claims against the bank.

Outside court yesterday Mr Curistan said he was delighted the latest action was moving towards trial.

"This will be a very complex case and will involve a significant claim for damages - I will be seeking in the region of £100m," he said.

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