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Resort developer wins court battle
A CARIBBEAN resort developer has won a court clash against a former contractor, who it is alleged siphoned off millions of pounds it was paid to build a five-star resort.
Harlequin Property, run by David and Carole Ames, both 61, of Brockhill, Wickford, launched the claim against Padraig O’Halloran, 43, from Cork in the Republic of Ireland, after dismissing his firm in 2010.
O’Halloran, director of the ICE Group, was found guilty of fraud by misrepresentation and ordered to pay back £1.3million by Judge Mr Justice McGovern at the High Court in Dublin.
Harlequin alleged between 2008 and June 2010 he diverted up to £8.5million into personal accounts from £34million paid to him to develop the first phase of its flagship resort, Buccament Bay, in St Vincent.
The court heard O’Halloran used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including a wedding, private jet, racecourse and property renovations. Mr O’Halloran, who is considering appealing, denied misappropriating money and counter claimed he was not paid the full amount agreed.
Harlequin has been making headlines since the Echo revealed it had taken about 6,000 deposits from investors to build hotel rooms and villas across six planned luxury resorts, but built just 300. The UK sales arm of the group, based at Honywood Road, Basildon, went into administration in April after several investors requested their money back. Before the trial, Harlequin blamed adverse publicity for its problems and vowed to plough any cash recovered back into the business.
A Harlequin spokesman said: “We are delighted with the court’s decision and grateful this unfortunate episode is behind the company. This case has taken up so much of our time over the last three years and we are now able to focus on moving the business forward.”
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