Property developer ordered to return money to his firm

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A PROPERTY developer who cleaned out his company's bank account just before going bust has been ordered to return the money.

Paul Dickens said 270,750 he took was used to re-pay investors because he had given them his word they would get their money back, together with a profit.

But liquidator Keith Anderson won a court order for the return of the funds so that he could distribute them among creditors.

Although the action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh was brought in Mr Anderson's name, the case was bank-rolled by Hunter and Clark, main contractor in one of Mr Dicken's projects and the largest single creditor.

Judge Sir David Edward QC agreed that Mr Dickens of Glenlockhart Bank, Edinburgh had provided personal guarantees to investors.

"There is no doubt that the whole of the sum was applied by him towards satisfaction of the loans."

But, he added, Mr Dickens had "prejudiced the general body of creditors" by doing so.

Mr Dickens was also told to hand over to the liquidator 10,000 which had been allowed as a discount to one of his backers when he bought a flat in the development.

Chartered surveyor Mr Dickens has been linked to a number of companies using the name Alba or variations of Alba.

In 2005 he set up New Alba (Redwood House) Ltd to develop a villa in the Merchiston area of Edinburgh. But the project ran over time and over budget and Mr Anderson was appointed liquidator in December 2006.

A section of the Insolvency Act 1986 which applies only to Scotland gives a creditor legal power to challenge a company's transaction if it favours one creditor over the rest up to six months before starting to wind up the company.