At a hearing in a New York court today, US Bankruptcy Judge Shelley Chapman heard argument on a motion to dismiss the involuntary bankruptcy action filed by purported creditors against ARGL (Aman Resorts Group Limited) – a BVI holding company with no assets or liabilities or interest in the similarly named but unrelated luxury Aman Hotel Company. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Court dismissed the bankruptcy as improperly filed and agreed to hear an application by ARGL for costs and sanctions at a subsequent hearing.
As ARGL told the Court in its papers, this involuntary bankruptcy was not only without merit, but the circumstances of its filing highly unusual and linked directly and indirectly to Omar Amanat’s attempt to continue a feud over ownership of the unrelated Aman Hotel Company –a dispute he lost in London a few weeks ago. In that case, his challenge collapsed and a settlement was approved in the UK High Court of Justice by Mrs Justice Asplin in an order dated 7th March 2016. As a result, Mr Amanat was forced to withdraw all allegations and pay costs of over USD $12m to all parties.
Indeed, most of the original alleged creditors who filed the bankruptcy in New York subsequently withdrew from the matter, as did all of the counsel involved in the filing and related matters. Incredibly, during the build-up to this hearing, three of the original petitioners who filed the bankruptcy (Zecha, Robinson & Turnbull) all withdrew from the legal action stating it had been filed “without their knowledge”, “authorization” or “consent”. US law firm, Brown Rudnick, also withdrew as counsel for creditors in the matter, citing a rarely-used ethical rule requiring lawyers to withdraw where they determine that their client is proceeding maliciously on claims with no legal merit.
As a result of these withdrawals, the only objection to dismissal was a last minute petition by alleged ad hoc creditors with unknown claims against ARGL. Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP (Kasowitz), the official board appointed lawyers acting for ARGL, filed the dismissal of the involuntary claim in the US courts, opposed the objection by the ad hoc creditors groups and made the application for costs and sanctions.
As ARGL also informed the Court in its motion:
- This legal action has nothing to do with the luxury hotel group Aman
- This legal action has nothing to do with the ownership of the Aman Hotel Company, which was recently resolved in a UK court proceeding in favour of the owner Vladislav Doronin.
- ARGL is a company registered in the British Virgin Islands which owns no assets and has no liabilities, and thus none of the claimed creditors have legitimate claims, much less a basis to seek bankruptcy of it.
ARGL contends in its papers that Mr. Amanat’s actions in this improper bankruptcy were an abuse of process and yet another attempt to interfere with the unrelated and highly successful Aman Hotels’ brand and business (due, in the most part, to the convenient common link of the name “Aman” in these unrelated companies.)
Lawyers for ARGL at the Kasowitz firm said: “Our client always believed there was no legal merit to this bankruptcy filing and is extremely pleased the Court has now granted its motion to have the filing dismissed and permit it to continue to pursue its claims for related costs and sanctions.”