June 25, 2024

Ms Staveley, who led the Saudi-backed consortium that took over the football club in 2021, has petitioned the Insolvency and Companies Court to overturn a demand made by Greek investor Victor Restis.
Amanda Staveley, co-owner of Newcastle United, has filed a bankruptcy case stating that she owes more than £36 million to a shipping tycoon, according to the High Court.

Ms Staveley, who led the Saudi-backed consortium that bought the football club in 2021, petitioned the Insolvency and Companies Court to overturn a demand made by Greek billionaire Victor Restis in May last year.

According to Ms Staveley’s lawyers, the alleged number includes £3.4 million in principal, £2.1 million in “legal costs and expenses” and £31.3 million in interest, for a total of £36.8 million.

The specialist court heard it is “common ground” that Mr Restis agreed in 2008 to arrange a £10 million investment in Ms Staveley’s business operations, but there was “some ambiguity” about whether this was a loan or another type of investment.

Amanda Staveley of Newcastle faces a bankruptcy proceeding over an alleged unpaid debt of £37 million.
In May 2016, the parties reached an agreement. According to written arguments by Ms Staveley’s lawyer, Ted Loveday, his client was instructed to sign a variety of other contracts and instruments between 2017 and 2021, all of which stated she was personally liable and gradually increased that liability.

“The various post-2016 instruments… were procured by duress, undue influence and/or misrepresentation,” according to Mr. Loveday. “The debt of £3.4 million had morphed into a debt in excess of £10 million, and which was said to exceed £36 million by May 2023,” he went on to say.

Ms Staveley claimed she was coerced into signing the post-2016 documents, the court heard. According to a specialized judge, Mr Restis’ lawyer, John Neocleous, allegedly informed Ms Staveley that the shipping magnate “was not a man to be messed with, that he was dangerous, and that (she) should not cross him”.

In his submissions, Mr Loveday stated that she “worried for the safety of herself and her family”. “Ms Staveley felt understandably intimidated and felt she had no option but to sign,” she said.

Mr Loveday also claimed that Ms Staveley’s Huntington’s illness, which she reportedly revealed to Mr Restis and Mr Neocleous, influenced her thinking and judgment. However, lawyers for Mr Restis stated that there is “no evidence” of “undue influence or duress”.

Raquel Agnello KC told the court that Ms Staveley was supplied documents, given time to review them, and given the option to make changes before signing them. In her submissions, Ms Agnello stated: “There is a real lack of reality in relation to an assertion of duress regarding the agreements.” There is no proof of any illegal behavior by Mr Restis or Mr Neocleous.”

She informed the court that there is no evidence “beyond (Ms Staveley’s) bare assertion” that Mr Restis is a dangerous guy. In her arguments, Ms Agnello stated, “There is no evidence that the debtor actually informed either Mr Restis or Mr Neocleous that she had Huntington’s.”

Importantly, the debtor does not claim that she informed either of them as to how that affected her in negotiations for the repayment of an outstanding loan.”

 

Amanda Staveley in court bid to prevent shipping tycoon from pushing her  into bankruptcy

 

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Ms Agnello further stated that an agreement signed on January 7, 2021 “supersedes all previous agreements” and holds Ms Staveley liable. Mr Loveday requested that the court set aside the demand for more than £36 million because it “raises a claim which ought to be determined by arbitration” and Ms Staveley had “substantial ground for denying liability”.

He claimed that the 2016 agreement decided that parties’ issues would be resolved through arbitration, and that the same agreement said that Ms Staveley was not personally accountable and that her firm, PCP Capital Partners, would pay. Mr Loveday described the interest charges and legal fees leveled against Ms Staveley “stratospheric” and  the imposition of personal liability as having come “out of the blue” in 2019.

The hearing before Judge Daniel Schaffer is scheduled to resume on March 19, when Ms Agnello will continue her arguments and ask the court to dismiss Ms Staveley’s move to set aside the statutory requirement.

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