Ten years after sale, Irish banks seek repayment for hotel purchase

The Irish Times is reporting that Allied Irish Banks are pursuing the former owner of the four-star Walter Raleigh Hotel in Youghal, County Cork.

According to the story, Richard Voke, a politician with a power base in Boston, bought the hotel in 2005 for almost €2.5 million. Voke provided a personal guarantee for some of the cash while AIB paid €1.6 million.

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When the recession hit a few years later, the hotel collapsed and Voke relocated back to Boston, but he appears to have welched on his guarantee to date. The bank got fed up last week of receiving no replies to its demands for payment, and has filed a suit against Voke in the Massachusetts courts.

According to the court papers, Voke Holdings, the company he set up to buy the hotel, owes AIB more than €2.1 million. However, the company entered liquidation in 2011, so it is unlikely to get its money back. Voke’s guarantee was limited to €200,000. The bank says it sent him at least five written demand for the cash, most recently in February this year. In March, AIB says, “an individual purporting to be a representative of Voke” phoned AIB and said he would engage. Since then, the bank has heard nothing.

The Walter Raleigh Hotel has since been bought for a fraction of the price paid by Voke, and has been completely refurbished and is apparently thriving. Its new owners are not party to any of the legal proceedings.