A convicted international property fraudster has two weeks to decide if he will contest civil proceedings brought by investors duped into paying out nearly £4m, a High Court judge directed on Tuesday.
Kevin O”Kane has been jailed for 4 1/2 years for fraud.
Kevin O’Kane must confirm by the end of the month whether he is to continue on or abandon any defence in the action brought by nearly 60 victims of a Turkish holiday home scam.
Last week the 52-year-old, from Ballynease Road, Portglenone, Co Antrim, was jailed for four and a half years for running the bogus operation.
O’Kane, a one-time oil and coal merchant, was convicted of more than 150 offences of obtaining money or property by deception and fraud by false representation.
He portrayed himself as the landowner, builder and developer of the Golden Beach villas development when, in reality, he owned nothing of the scheme.
One of O’Kane’s victims, who handed over £75,000, has been left with a monthly bank bill of £600 for the next 17 years.
A legal bid by investors seeking their money back was put on hold until the criminal case was completed.
With the prison term now imposed, they returned to the High Court in an attempt to resolve the action.
Mr Justice Deeny asked his barrister: “Your client has been convicted and sentenced. Have you taken instructions on whether he is continuing
to contest this?”
John O’Hare, Counsel for O’Kane, replied that the focus has been on the criminal case and requested an adjournment to clarify his position.
Essentially, the businessman can either agree to judgment being entered against him or else prolong proceedings until a ruling is made.
Disputes over the amount of money owed, or quantum, may stretch the case out further.
A solicitor for some of the plaintiffs said: “We would hope at this stage Mr O’Kane … would see fit to consent.
“We would hope we wouldn’t have to go to further time and expense.”
Mr Justice Deeny agreed to give the defendant two weeks to decide his position.
The judge also pointed out: “The general principle is the man has been convicted beyond reasonable doubt.
“It would seem strongly to indicate the success of this (action), but there is then the issue of what judgment you are getting.
“Are they a series of minor judgments to be granted on the same day?”