The High Court has ruled that the trustees of the Victory Christian Fellowship (VCF) must must disclose details of their income and assets to Bank of Scotland arising from a €18.7m judgment obtained against them.
Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly also ruled trustees of the VCF must also provide BOS with details how it is funding on going litigation against it and two receivers it appointed over three properties owned by the church.
Bank Of Scotland and receivers it appointed over certain properties of the VCF sought various orders including one compelling the trustees to provide a statement of their current and anticipated income and expenditure. They also sought orders compelling the trustees to disclose the identities of third parties funding the VCF’s on-going litigation.
The orders were sought in aid of execution of a judgment made against the VCF in favour of the bank for €18.7m.
VCF appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.
Since it obtained the judgment, which no stay is in place, BOS alleges there is on-going failure by the trustees to provide BOS with full details including a statement of affairs regarding VCF’s assets and proposals to discharge the debt.
The application was opposed by the Trustees, Brendan Hade, the VCF’s senior pastor his wife Shelia Hade Fountain Head, Rockbrook, Rathfarnham Dublin and Gerry Byrne of Woodstown, Knocklyon, Dublin. They argued the orders are unnecessary.
They claim all VCF activities ceased after the receivers took possession of their three premises in June of 2013.
In a judgment Ms Justice Donnelly said BOS and the receivers are entitled to disclosure in the form of sworn statements and discovery of documents concerning assets and income of the trustees be made by the defendant, as well as details of how the litigation is being funded.
The Judge said she was satisfied to grant the orders because matters including the accuracy of the statement of affairs as to the current position of the VCF “needed clarification.”
Ms Justice Donnelly said there the issues before her that needed clarification included whether VCF “is still in operation” or if new churches have been formed by the remnants of the VCF.
The Judge said it appears disclosure “will be necessary to clarify whether the pastors are attending meeting on a voluntary basis” as claimed by the trustees, or “whether those congregations are in reality entities of VCF.” she said.
The Judge said there was “no doubt” the defendants have been in receipt of third party funding. There was a conflict in the defendants affidavits as to whether they are in receipt of direct funding from congregants or whether they are getting funding from a company called Victory Conference Centre Ltd, which the trustees say they have no interest or involvement in.
The basis under which the defendants had received such donations and the extent of the donations were also at issue, the Judge said.
In the circumstances the Judge said the receivers and BOS are entitled to be provided with information concerning the trustees funding of their case. The Judge said the trustees must furnish BOS with details concerning the ownership of Victory Conference Ltd, and details of all payments made from that company to the trustees.
In 2013 Mr Justice Paul Gilligan ruled BOS was entitled to judgment against the VCF’s trustees, after it failed to repay monies it borrowed from BOS. The court also ruled BOS had valid security over three of he VCF’s properties and was entitled to appoint receivers in May 2013.
The three properties are located at Kilmacud House, Kilmacud Road, Upper Stillorgan; Westland Row and Firhouse Road, Tallaght. They were put up as security for monies advanced by BOS in 2007.
The loans were advanced to VCF could move from its base at Westland Row to a bigger premises at Firhouse, where a new church- the Victory Centre- was constructed.