Mary Carolan, The Irish Times
U2 GUITARIST Adam Clayton gave his former personal assistant Carol Hawkins full authority to operate his bank accounts but "couldn't be bothered" over a period of about four years to read bank statements which would have suggested he was "haemorrhaging" a huge sum of money, the Commercial Court was told yesterday.
Michael McDowell SC, for Bank of Ireland Private Banking Ltd, said Clayton seemed to think the bank should have noticed more than â‚¬4 million was missing from his accounts between 2004 and 2009 when he had not.
Clayton was "putting the cart before the horse" in trying to fast-track this "derivative" case against the bank and his accountants when his separate action against Ms Hawkins had yet to be heard, Mr McDowell said.
Clayton also decided to keep Ms Hawkins on after she confessed in September 2008 to misappropriating "about â‚¬15,000" but it was not even suggested there was any effort by him to notify the bank of that.
Paul Sreenan SC, for Clayton, said his client's claim related to the duties owed by bankers to their professional clients.
This "substantial fraud" had emerged in October 2009 when the bank rang up to say some of the transfers on Clayton's account were "unusual", Mr Sreenan added. If the bank had spotted it earlier, his loss "might have been a lot less". Mr Sreenan said the â‚¬15,000 which Ms Hawkins confessed to misappropriating was much less than the actual amount and Clayton could not be faulted for relying on the bank and his accountants.
It is claimed the sum misappropriated was about â‚¬4.3 million in October 2008, while a further â‚¬450,000 was misappropriated up to October 2009.
Clayton, Danesmoate Demesne, Kellystown Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin, is suing Bank of Ireland Private Banking Ltd and Gaby Smyth Co, chartered accountants, Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin.
He is claiming â‚¬4.38 million damages and â‚¬4.8 million damages respectively against the defendants for alleged negligence and breach of contract arising from the alleged misappropriation by Ms Hawkins of more than â‚¬4.8 million.
Clayton last year initiated separate proceedings in the High Court against Ms Hawkins, Crannagh Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin, which have yet to be heard, in which he claims an apartment was bought in New York with his money and some â‚¬900 a month was spent on a syndicate which maintained horses.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly refused an application by Clayton to fast-track into the Commercial Court the proceedings against Bank of Ireland private banking and Gaby Smyth Co.
The case will instead go ahead in the High Court.
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