Curistan makes allegation of fraud at Belfast High court

Businessman Peter Curistan
Businessman Peter Curistan

Belfast property magnate Peter Curistan is alleging fraud in his multi-million pound legal action against the former Anglo Irish Bank, the High Court heard.

The developer, who built the city’s Odyssey entertainment complex, is also claming breach of duty and negligence over the process to find a buyer for his long-term lease in the venue.

His case against the defendant, now known as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, may see a Northern Ireland judge travel to Dublin to hear some evidence.

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

The businessman, who developed the Odyssey Pavilion before losing control of it to Anglo, was disqualified from being a company director for six years in 2016.

He has also been discharged from a 12-month bankruptcy order made back in 2012.

Since then he has continued with a series of actions against the bank.

In one previous case a High Court judge drew attention to a so-called ‘Golden Circle’ arrangement where the bank loaned 10 of its clients k450 million which they then used to buy shares in the bank.

The scheme was said to have been designed to stop a large number of shares reaching the open market and depressed the bank’s value.

Papers lodged in Mr Curistan’s current lawsuit focus on claims around how Anglo 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.

At a preliminary hearing yesterday, counsel for Mr Curistan, told a judge newly appointed to hear the action: “A significant amendment made to the statement of claim brought in new allegations, including allegations of fraud and shadow directorship.”

The developer claims the focus was on selling the Odyssey Pavillion to a preferred client, rather than securing the highest bidder on the open market.

Although no date for trial has been set, it was previously indicated that two former bank executives could give evidence in Dublin.

Madam Justice McBride, who is now presiding in the case, has yet to confirm if that remains the position.