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Harlequin wins

officialsatherlequinsmerrickgroundbreakinglastyearA bitter overseas court battle involving two foreign investors with links to Barbados has ended in victory for one of them.

With the outcome of similar action in Barbados still pending, and with the go ahead now given for the recovery of millions of dollars, some of which is thought to be located here, today’s developments are likely to have implications for the island.

In a decision delivered today by the Irish High Court, troubled English company Harlequin won its fraudulent misappropriation law suit brought against Padraig O’Halloran, the former contractor on its St. Vincent resort project who has business interests in Barbados, including building company Cellate Caribbean Limited which is part of his ICE Group.

O’Halloran will now have to pay Harlequin $4.1 million and officials are expected to zero in on assets he reportedly owns here.

During the 31-day trial in Ireland, the court heard evidence including that the allegation that O’Halloran fraudulently misappropriated more than $26.1 million from $100.6 million sent to his firm for the Buccament Bay project in St. Vincent.

The court was also told that the money was used for various purposes including renovations to a rented property in Sandy Lane here, a new house and lavish wedding in Ireland, a $3 million private jet, a race course in St. Lucia, and a car franchise business.

Harlequin officials had also testified that while the funds were being misappropriated, very little of the promised construction work was actually carried out, resulting in the Buccament Bay Resort opening later than originally planned and on a smaller scale.

They also said other developments including those in Barbados were subsequently pushed back because Harlequin had to create its own construction company to resume work. Reacting to today’s decision, a Harlequin spokesman said in a statement that the company was “delighted with the court’s decision and grateful that 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. We would like to extend our gratitude to our legal teams in the UK and Ireland who have supported us throughout to ensure that justice was achieved,” the company said.

“There is still much to do as we believe that much of the money that Mr O’Halloran misappropriated is still to be traced. The pursuit for justice and clearing Harlequin’s name will continue…”

Harlequin’s own financial difficulties has forced it to stop construction on two projects it started in Barbados and the company is now in administration in the United Kingdom. Harlequin’s has also filed lawsuits against O’Halloran’s Cellate Group in Barbados, England, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

In 2010 Harlequin was granted an order in the Barbados High Court to freeze assets Cellate Group owned in Barbados. (SC)

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