Diamond ring sought by NAMA already sold

Monday 04 February 2013 23.57
NAMA will now move to recover the proceeds of the sale
NAMA will now move to recover the proceeds of the sale

The National Assets Management Agency is to get the $205,000 (€152,000) proceeds of the sale of an 8.38 solitaire diamond ring sold last week at auction in Florida.

The Commercial Court heard the ring was formerly the property of the wife of developer John McCabe.

Jim Hamilton was appointed last Thursday as receiver for NAMA over the ring and a diamond necklace and bracelet belonging to Mary McCabe, Rath Stud, Ashbourne, Co Meath.

NAMA is pursuing Mrs McCabe to recover a €21m judgment over unpaid loans.

Mr Hamilton was given the necklace today.

The receiver is also to be given a fine quality diamond line bracelet set in platinum which Mrs McCabe had given to a Dublin jeweller, John Farrington, of Farrington's in Drury Street, with a view to being sold, Mr Justice Peter Kelly heard.

The judge was told the bracelet remains in a safe in Farrington’s, and Mr Farrington had been co-operative.

He is to hand over both it and the proceeds of sale of the ring on his return next Thursday from the US, where he was attending an auction in Miami.

The diamond ring was shipped to the US and sold there on 29 January, the day before NAMA applied for a receiver to be appointed over the jewellery after expressing concern it had not been handed over despite requests.

Mrs McCabe had on 30 January attempted to stop the sale but it had already completed, the court also heard.

John McCabe Jnr, son of Mrs McCabe, said his mother was not in court due to a family bereavement.

He said there was no intention to put the jewellery or sale proceeds out of NAMA's reach.

His mother was advised the ring would obtain a better price if sold in the US and the idea was to secure the maximum return for NAMA and the taxpayer from disposal of the jewellery, he said.

Mr McCabe Jnr rejected suggestions by Rossa Fanning, for NAMA, of a "scheme" to dispose of the jewellery.

When his family became aware of the court order appointing Mr Hamilton as receiver, they had spoken to the receiver and updated him on the situation, he said.

Mr Justice Kelly said NAMA would say they had acted "not a moment too soon" as they had written or emailed Mrs McCabe twice in January seeking for the jewellery to be handed over, including a letter insisting that legal proceedings would ensue if the ring was not handed over by 18 January.

The receiver's appointment might have been unnecessary if the letters were responded to in the terms Mr McCabe had outlined, he said.

Mr McCabe said his family were all out of work due to the collapse of the family business and were out seeking work and not constantly accessing emails.

Mr Fanning said the "significant" developments justified NAMA applying last week for the appointment of the receiver.

It may have been thought NAMA's action was harsh and draconian but such views were not borne out, he said.

His side had said they were concerned about a real risk the jewellery would be disposed of and that was "exactly the scheme being engaged in with no notice to NAMA", he said.

It may well be a reasonable price was obtained for the ring and it may have been sold to a bona fide purchaser under a contract which could not be undone, he added.

If that was the case, NAMA wished to recover the proceeds of sale and asked the court to note the undertaking that those be retained.

Earlier, Bernard Dunleavy, for Mrs McCabe, said her lawyers had discussed the matter with her after NAMA obtained the orders appointing Mr Hamilton and she had indicated she intended to deal directly with NAMA and the receiver.

In those circumstances, his side were seeking to come off record for Mrs McCabe, counsel said.

Mr Justice Kelly granted that application and said he would give Mrs McCabe two weeks to consider whether she wished to challenge the receiver's appointment and to address the various matters. He returned the matter to 18 February. In the interim, Mr Hamilton remained as receiver over the bracelet, necklace and sale proceeds of the ring.

Last week, Mr Fanning told the court NAMA believed the ring alone was worth more than €150,000, based on the opinion of a jewellery valuer, while Mrs McCabe had valued it, the bracelet and necklace collectively at €140,000.

Two judgments for sums totalling more than €20m were entered against Mrs McCabe last year and she failed to disclose the jewellery in her first statement of affairs but did so in her second, the court also heard.