ACC Bank claims Galwaymen sought to defraud by transfering properties to wives

ACC Bank has claimed two Co Galway men who consented earlier this year to €3.2 million judgment orders in favour of the bank against them over unpaid property and development loans have sought to defraud the bank by transferring their interest in properties to their wives.

The bank claims the properties were transferred by Martin Fox and Gareth Duffy last June after it had initiated proceedings against them.

In the case of Mr Fox, ACC alleges his interest in properties in Co Galway and Co Mayo was transferred to his wife four days before he consented to judgment in the €3.2 million sum.

The bank claims Gareth Duffy transferred his interest in property in Co Galway to his wife on June 15 last, after the bank had initiated its action and one day after judgment was entered against him.

Mr Fox and Mr Duffy, representing themselves, had told Mr Justice Peter Kelly last June they could not afford solicitors and were not opposing the bank's summary judgment application as they had received the loans from ACC to purchase a development site near Athenry, Co Galway.

Mr Fox, Moyvilla, Oranmore, Co Galway, said they went into development with no debts and expecting to repay their loans in full. Had ACC been a bit more lenient with them, he believed they could have substantially redcuced the debt owed, he said.

They had an "exceptionally nice" property on the site of the new Galway-Dublin road but ACC moved against them just months after that road opened, he said. If it had waited and given them a chance to try and sell, "perhaps we could have walked away a bit happier".

Mr Duffy, Ballina, Ballyglunin, Tuam, Co Galway, said their hands were tied in terms of ability to repay and they just did not have the money.

ACC's claim arose from loans advanced to the men from 2006 to purchase a development site near Athenry. It claimed the loans expired in May 2009 and demanded repayment last February when it also appointed a receiver over the lands.

ACC last month initiated fresh proceedings in the High Court against Mr Fox and Ms Duffy and their wives, respectively Siobhan McAndrew, and Kathleen Howley. Yesterday, the bank's motion to transfer that case to the Commercial Court was struck out because of issues with service of documents on the defendants.

In its action, ACC is seeking a declaration the voluntary transfer on June 10 last of property in Co Galway and Co Mayo by Mr Fox to Ms McAndrew was made with the intention of defrauding the bank. It wants an order deeming the transfer void.

In its proceedings against Mr Duffy and Ms Howley, the bank wants a declaration the voluntary transfer by Mr Duffy to Ms Howley of property in Co Galway last June was made with the intention of defrauding the bank and should be deemed void.

The bank is also seeking damages, including punitive or exemplary damages, for alleged breach of contract, misrepresentation and breach of duty on the part of the defendants, their servants or agents.

It claims, when both men appeared before the court on June 14th last, they had not stated they had or intended to voluntarily transfer their interest in properties. ACC claims the transfers mean it cannot register mortgages over the properties. It had received no reply to letters of July, August and October last asking the defendants to reverse the transfers, it added.

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