Wed | Oct 4, 2023

Horne fires back

Published:Saturday | June 10, 2023 | 12:51 AMJovan Johnson/Senior Staff Reporter
Norman Horne
Norman Horne
Norman Horne
Norman Horne
Norman Horne
Norman Horne

NORMAN HORNE, who leads one of Jamaica’s largest construction materials companies, has denied claims made in court that he should be declared responsible for the “concealed fraudulent transfer” of assets from a company he ran, to himself and other persons.

“This assertion of ‘fraudulent transfer’ is strongly refuted by Horne and ALL other parties named,” noted a statement issued yesterday by King’s Counsel Peter Champagnie on behalf of the six defendants in the case brought by trading firm Arc Systems Limited, which is in bankruptcy and directed by court-appointed trustee Kenneth Tomlinson.

“This matter is currently before the court, the finality of which has not yet been determined. Neither Horne nor any of the other named parties are the subject of any official investigation in respect of any fraudulent activity or any other matters,” it continued.

The defendants named in the claim that was filed on May 29 are: Horne, who founded Arc Systems; his sister Charlotte Ann Hayles; his brother, Lackie; Arc Properties; Arc Manufacturing, for which he is the executive chairman and Altruistic Investments Limited.

Arc Systems (in bankruptcy) is seeking various orders and declarations, alleging acts of fraud and dishonesty in the transfer of monies and assets to related entities, assistance in the illegal acts, and for restitution. Horne and Hayles, who are shareholders of Arc, have been accused of being “liable in damages” for the alleged fraudulent transfers of the entity’s assets and monies.

The defendants’ statement came hours after the Court of Appeal dismissed an application by Exclusive Holidays of Elegance Limited for Arc Systems’ challenge to a 2021 Supreme Court ruling to be struck out.

In the May 2021 judgment, Justice David Batts granted an order sought by Elegance for Arc Systems to be placed into receivership. That status allowed Tomlinson to trace the company’s assets in order to pay a $26 million debt that Elegance said it is owed for a supply of steel.

Among other things, the judge said financial reports on Arc suggested that there were “fraudulent preference and systemic efforts to hide assets rather than to pay lawful debts” and pointed to nearly $823 million that was transferred from Arc Systems’ National Commercial Bank account between January 2012 and May 2013.

It is that judgment that is being appealed.

Exclusive Holidays has contended that Arc Systems may have been ‘stripped’ of its assets, but Arc’s representatives have argued that the company ceased doing business in 2013 and that there are no assets to find.

“Horne and the named parties remain committed to upholding their values and maintaining the highest standards of integrity,” yesterday’s statement said, adding that “through truth, fairness and justice, they are confident that their reputations will emerge stronger than ever”.

The first hearing in the May 29 claim was held in chambers before Justice Batts, who has since recused himself from the case. No orders were made, and the matter is to continue on June 22.

Horne is the chairman of ARC Manufacturing, a leading building materials company incorporated in Jamaica in 2010. Horne, his brother, Hayles, and St Lucia-registered H10 investment are the listed shareholders. Horne and Hayles are also the shareholders of Arc Properties.

The businessman, a former treasurer of the Opposition People’s National Party, and his wife, Ashley-Ann Foster, an ex-PNP candidate, are the directors and shareholders of Altruistic Investments.