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Property developer Curistan made personally bankrupt

Published 05/01/2013

Gary McDonald Business Editor

ONE of the north's best-known property developers has suffered further ignominy by being made personally bankrupt.

Accountant turned investor Peter Curistan (56) - whose address was given as Hampton Park, a cul-de-sac off the Saintfield Road in south Belfast - was brought down by a debtor's petition at a hearing on December 21.

It marks the culmination of a devastating two years for the man who was pivotal to the development of the Odyssey Pavilion entertainment complex in Belfast as well as a raft of landmark projects across Ireland and Britain.

His Sheridan Millennium property empire was placed in administration in 2010 by Anglo Irish Bank - now the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) - with debts of more than £50 million.

Since then Mr Curistan has waged a dogged legal battle to retain ownership of the property, which is under control of the administrator KPMG.

Mr Curistan has been suing the IBRC alleging fraudulent misrepresentation and negligence over the process to find a buyer for his longterm lease on the Odyssey Pavilion, which houses bars, restaurants and other entertainment attractions.

In November The Irish News reported that the entrepreneur had launched a legal action against KPMG partner John Hansen over ownership of the Imax cinema in the Odyssey complex.

Mr Curistan claims he still owns the theatre and is seeking a return of the tenancy.

He insists the tenancy is owned by a separate company, Sheridan Operations Ltd, which is solvent and is still liable for the rates on the Imax cinema.

In 2011 he failed in a legal bid to have KPMG removed as administrator, claiming it was unlawful for Anglo Irish Bank to make the appointment.

Mr Curistan remains adamant that he has been wronged by the system.

Last year he begun a personal campaign to discredit Ireland's big lenders and "make them accountable".

He took out a series of newspaper advertisements calling on aggrieved business people to come forward and voice their dissatisfaction at the treatment they had received from major banks.

He claims that the banks have "breached the law" and therefore many of the loans they are calling in are enforceable.

Mr Curistan's personal bankruptcy follows his naming in the debtor magazine Stubbs Gazette in September after the High Court in Dublin ruled that €10.4 million (£8.3m) must be repaid to the IBRC. ■ INVESTOR: Peter Curistan ■ ENTERTAINMENT: Peter Curistan played a pivotal role in developing the Odyssey complex in Belfast