Belfast Telegraph

Property investor to use £75k revenue for legal battle

By Alan Erwin

A Belfast businessman attempting to stop a US investment fund putting two of his companies into administration is to be allowed access to £75,000 to fund his legal fight.

Gareth Graham will be able to use the revenue from his property firms after pledging to comply with any order to make full reimbursement if he ultimately loses the case against Cerberus.

Disputed moves towards receivers taking control of the companies have also been stalled after the High Court battle was put back until next year.

A judge fixed the trial for a potential two-week hearing in January.

Mr Graham is a director and major shareholder in STH 500 and Lehill Properties.

The firms' loans were among those transferred over to Nama, the Republic's 'bad bank'.

Last year Cerberus snapped up Nama's entire Northern Ireland portfolio in a deal reportedly worth more than £1bn.

The international investment firm, sometimes referred to as a vulture fund, operates a business model where borrowers rapidly repay loans by selling properties or finding new financial backers.

In other cases administrators or receivers are appointed.

Mr Graham is challenging Cerberus' legal right to take such steps against his companies.

He insists his businesses were financially strong and never missed a repayment.

The legal challenge was due to be heard at the High Court in Belfast in October, but the date has now been put back.

Stephen Shaw QC, for Cerberus, told a review hearing yesterday: "The underlying issues are so fundamentally important to us that we want to ensure we get in and have them addressed."

Meanwhile, Mr Graham's barristers, Monye Anyadike-Danes QC and Wayne Atchison, confirmed his personal undertaking to repay funds being used for his legal costs should be ultimately lose.

Belfast Telegraph