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Fallen tycoon brothers liable for £5m owed to Ulster Bank

By Alan Erwin

Published 12/12/2015

Michael (left) and John Taggart
Michael (left) and John Taggart

Former housebuilding tycoons Michael and John Taggart owe Ulster Bank a £5m personal guarantee, a High Court judge ruled.

Mr Justice Burgess held the brothers liable as he rejected their multimillion-pound counter-writ for alleged negligence they say led to the collapse of their property empire.

He described Michael Taggart's evidence in the case as being "flawed, inconsistent and implausible".

Finding no deceit on the part of any bank official, the judge dismissed claims that the brothers were kept in the dark about credit concerns.

He said: "It remains a mystery to the court as to why two highly intelligent businessmen with seemingly considerable wealth, when faced with what in the scheme of their affairs were relatively modest financial demands to put right the covenants they entered into with the banks, did not take any steps to do so."

The Co Derry brothers sued Ulster Bank for alleged improper conduct they contended contributed to the downfall of the Taggart Group.

Once a huge operation on both sides of the border, with further interests in Britain, Europe and the United States, the firm was decimated in the 2007 property market crash.

Within a year it had gone into administration.

Michael and John Taggart insisted they could have sold off assets had they been warned of unease within the bank about the company's finances.

Ulster Bank issued counter-proceedings for €4.3m and £5m. It contended the brothers owed in personal guarantees over land purchases in Kinsealy, north Co Dublin, in 2006 and in Northern Ireland a year later.

Mr Justice Burgess said: "I therefore determine that the 2007 guarantee is perfectly valid and binding and that the amount due under it is fully owed to the banks by the Taggart brothers."

The businessmen's property portfolio once extended to a Luxembourg shopping centre and luxury apartments in Florida.

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