Or­ders is­sued against avi­a­tion fi­nancier

Mil­lar barred by court from dis­clos­ing in­for­ma­tion on Stell­wa­gen to oth­ers

The Irish Times - Business - - NEWS - BARRY O’HAL­LO­RAN

Avi­a­tion fi­nancier Howard Mil­lar and two oth­ers at­tempted to di­vert busi­ness away from their em­ployer, air­craft leas­ing group Stell­wa­gen, it was claimed in the High Court.

Mr Mil­lar, who was former Ryanair chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, Ed­ward Han­som and Ed­ward Cough­lan, left Dublin- and US-based Stell­wa­gen last month.

The High Court is­sued a se­ries of in­terim or­ders yes­ter­day bar­ring all three from dis­clos­ing in­for­ma­tion on Stell­wa­gen to oth­ers and from in­ter­fer­ing in its re­la­tion­ship with clients, in­vestors, staff or com­mer­cial part­ners.

Delet­ing in­for­ma­tion

The court also pro­hib­ited the three from rep­re­sent­ing the com­pany, which pro­vides air­lines with fi­nance to buy air­craft, or from delet­ing in­for­ma­tion or data be­long­ing to it. Stell­wa­gen sought the or­ders at a hear­ing that did not in­volve its three former ex­ec­u­tives.

Its chief ex­ec­u­tive, Dou­glas Bren­nan, al­leges in an af­fi­davit that the group dis­cov­ered a “con­certed” ef­fort by the three to di­vert valu­able busi­ness away from their em­ployer, in di­rect con­flict with their le­gal obli­ga­tions.

Mr Bren­nan states that this be­gan with their co-or­di­nated res­ig­na­tions on Septem­ber 4th.

Mr Mil­lar, Mr Han­som and Mr Cough­lan will have an op­por­tu­nity to re­spond on Tues­day next, when the mat­ter is due back be­fore the High Court. The in­terim or­ders ap­ply un­til then.

Mr Bren­nan’s af­fi­davit in­di­cates that Mr Mil­lar main­tains that the com­pany con­struc­tively dis­missed him at a meet­ing on Au­gust 31st. Stell­wa­gen de­nies this. Mr Han­som and Mr Cough­lan had been direc­tors of sev­eral Stell­wa­gen group com­pa­nies since 2014. Mr Howard joined last year as chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of Stell­wa­gen Group Ltd, a di­rec­tor of an­other of its com­pa­nies and a mem­ber of its ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

Gar­den­ing leave

Mr Bren­nan states that fol­low­ing their res­ig­na­tions, Stell­wa­gen put the men on “gar­den­ing leave” and re­minded them of their on­go­ing le­gal obli­ga­tions.

On Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 9th, Mr Bren­nan claims that Stell­wa­gen dis­cov­ered plans drafted in Au­gust for a new busi­ness, Air­green, on what had been Mr Cough­lan’s com­pany lap­top.

These in­di­cated that Mr Mil­lar was to have been chief ex­ec­u­tive, Mr Han­som chief risk of­fi­cer and Mr Cough­lan chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer. He also says that emails dis­cov­ered fol­low­ing their res­ig­na­tion show that Mr Mil­lar and Mr Cough­lan mis­rep­re­sented the progress that they were mak­ing on talks with the Abu Dhabi Fi­nan­cial Group (ADFG) to set up a leas­ing busi­ness in the United Arab Emi­rates.

They claimed progress was slow, but Stell­wa­gen says cor­re­spon­dence from Mustafa Kheriba of the ADFG in­di­cates there had been progress, in­clud­ing a pro­posal that the com­pany pro­vide $20 mil­lion as a found­ing share­holder.

Stell­wa­gen’s chief ex­ec­u­tive also al­leges that the com­pany found de­tails that ap­peared to show the three had ar­ranged to lease two craft to African air­line Air Sene­gal.

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