By Sarah Townsend
Court documents reveal Sugar Hut owner claims former director misused club cash to buy extravagant personal possessions, using a web of Dubai-based companies
They are regularly snapped sunbathing on Dubai beaches and partying in its exclusive nightclubs, but recent court documents have revealed that Dubai has much closer links to the stars of British reality TV show The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE) and the setting for much of its headline-grabbing dramatics.
This month, a UK court named three Dubai-based companies as conduits for hundreds of thousands of dollars of takings from the Sugar Hut nightclub that features in the glitzy series.
A judge in the Commercial Court on August 14 threw out a claim by Sugar Hut owner Michael Norcross (pictured below) that a former co-director diverted club takings for personal gain – and the Dubai-based vehicles are part of the complex paper trail.
Norcross, along with others, brought the case against the estate of Christos Georgallides, a deceased former director of Sugar Hut Brentwood Limited, the company that managed the club but is now in liquidation.
According to the judgment, seen by Arabian Business, Norcross alleged that Georgallides misued company funds to buy private medical insurance, expensive cars, sporting memorabilia from Las Vegas and furniture and artefacts from Thailand that he used to decorate his home.
Norcross alleged in court documents that Georgallides acquired the funds fraudulently, by making dishonest requests for “due diligence” and other payments that he purported to require for company reasons. The documents claim he then diverted the cash to his own bank accounts.
The judgment highlighted how various payments were made directly or indirectly to Georgallides by companies affiliated with the club, including three Dubai-based vehicles, VCL, Moat and Damask.
VCL was a company incorporated in Dubai and “apparently connected with Mr Norcross”, the judgement stated, while Moat and Damask, though incorporated in the Turks & Caicos Islands, had Dubai addresses.
There is no suggestion that the Dubai companies themselves acted unlawfully or negligently.
In the end, the judge dismissed the case saying he did not consider Norcross a “satisfactory” witness and because “the facts on which [his claims] are based have not been proved”.
Norcross and the lawyers for both parties in the dispute have been contacted for comment. A spokesperson for the estate of Christos Georgallides declined to comment.
The Sugar Hut is also at the centre of a £2.2 million ($3.5 million) High Court insurance row related to a fire that broke out at the club in 2009 – just before The Only Way Is Essex show first aired in 2010 – destroying a chunk of the building.
It is understood that the repair work needed following the fire was one of the reasons why the club’s management company was forced into liquidation.
Norcross appeared in episodes of The Only Way Is Essex in the past, but quit in 2013 after growing tired of how the Sugar Hut is portrayed on the show, according to the Daily Mail.
“All these rows they keep filming don’t show the club in a good light and I’m worried it’s putting people off coming, which is the last thing I want,” he reportedly said.