Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Liquidator Myles Kirby is asking the High Court to order that businessman Alan Hynes and a number of others connected with the Tuskar group of companies return assets that were allegedly transferred out of three related companies.

Mr Kirby is also seeking orders that the officers of the company bear personal liability in relation to the companies in which he says adequate accounting records were not kept. He is also asking the court to assess damages against certain individuals.

Mr Kirby is liquidator of Tuskar Property Holdings (TPH), whose directors and owners were Alan Hynes and his wife Noreen Hynes until 2009 when it became wholly owned by Cambridge, England-based Dr Adrian O’Reilly who is also a respondent in the case and Alan Hynes’ brother-in-law. Mrs Hynes is not a respondent.

Mr Kirby is also liquidator of Hynes Jewellers (Wexford) Ltd and JW Fashions Ltd (JWF).

Along with Mr Hynes and Dr O’Reilly, the other respondents in the case are Alan’s cousin Frank Hynes, who was a director of HJW and JWF, and his wife Martina Hynes, who co-owned certain assets. A fifth respondent is Tuskar Investment Group Ltd (TIG) which is 100 per cent owned by Dr O’Reilly.

The case was due to start on Tuesday before Mr Justice Michael Quinn, but it was adjourned until Wednesday to allow Wexford-based Alan Hynes, who was the only one of the respondents to make an appearance (via audio link), to join via video link.

Mr Hynes said he was recovering from Covid, and it would not be easy for him to travel to Dublin.

All four personal respondents have denied the claims and entered defences.

‘Reckless trading’

In his action, Mr Kirby, who was appointed liquidator of TPH, HJW and JWF in the first three months of 2020 on foot of a petition from the Revenue, says that in the course of his investigations into HJW he found issues of concern including significant cash withdrawals at a time HJW was defaulting on its debts and a fraudulent share transfer to TPH in 2016.

They also included a serious failure to keep proper books and records, failure to provide a statement of affairs, inappropriate actions by directors concerning vehicle hire-purchase agreements and permitting the accumulation of significant liabilities to creditors.

Mr Kirby says Alan Hynes appeared to have acted as a shadow or de facto director of HJW despite the fact that he was disqualified by the High Court in October 2013 from acting as a company director for three years and restricted in such a role for five years.

The liquidator says both Alan and Frank Hynes should now be disqualified from holding directorships because he believed both engaged in conduct in connection with the affairs of HJW which Mr Kirby contends amounted to fraudulent and/or reckless trading.

They were also guilty of culpable failure to keep books and records of HJW and cash payments made to Frank, to a joint account with his wife Martina, and to TPH, constituted a misapplication or wrongful retention of company monies.

Forged signatures

In relation to TPH, Mr Kirby’s concerns include failure to keep books, use of TPH to hide assets from creditors and enrich connected parties, forging of signatures and emails sent under assumed identities and falsification of TPH financial statements.

He says a purported employment contract for Alan Hynes with TPH, at a salary of €100,000, was a sham and a contrivance to benefit Mr Hynes at the expense of creditors of TPH. Mr Hynes was again acting as a shadow director of TPH and was not an employee, he says.

His investigations into the affairs of all three connected companies showed Dr O’Reilly had facilitated wrongdoing by Alan and Frank Hynes, he says.

In relation to the third connected company, JWF, Mr Kirby says he has similar concerns in relation to keeping books, Alan Hyne acting as a shadow director, use of a JWF account to collect personal income for Alan and to conceal assets from creditors.

There appeared to be close links between the three companies and the operations carried out by each and their affairs seemed to have become intermingled with ultimate control under Alan and/or Frank.

He believes both men engaged in conduct amounting to fraudulent and/or reckless trading in relation to JWF.

While Mr Kirby is not liquidator in relation to the fifth respondent, TIG, he says it has emerged as a “significant party” in his investigations and “the latest entity into which Alan Hynes has sought to divert assets” with a view to evading creditors.

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