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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Court official plans legal case to prove Dunne owns K Club home

Published 29/08/2014 | 02:30

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Ownership of the €1.8m K Club home is in dispute
Ownership of the €1.8m K Club home is in dispute

THE High Court is expected to be asked to determine the ownership of a €1.8m home in the prestigious K Club golf resort which has been linked to bust developer Sean Dunne.

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Official assignee Christopher Lehane, the court official overseeing Mr Dunne's bankruptcy in Ireland, believes the businessman is the beneficial owner of the property.

However, Mr Dunne did not list it in the schedule of assets he submitted in his bankruptcy proceedings and insists he does not own it.

In an affidavit contained in Mr Dunne's bankruptcy file, Mr Lehane said the ownership of the house "will be an issue for separate legal proceedings".

Mr Dunne claims it is owned by an Isle of Man trust company set up for his children. But Mr Lehane said he had evidence which indicated the businessman was the true owner.

The house was at the centre of controversy last year after Mr Lehane secured a warrant to search it, seizing artworks and documents relating to family law proceedings involving Mr Dunne.

According to an affidavit in the bankruptcy file, Mr Lehane said broker statements indicated Dunne had an insurable interest in the property at Churchfields in Straffan, Co Kildare.

These documents showed the house was insured for €1.8m, with deluxe contents valued at €700,000.

Mr Lehane went on to say he believed Mr Dunne was the beneficial owner of Traviata Ltd, the trust company which owns the property.

"Upon entering the house it is immediately evident that it is primarily a residence of the bankrupt from the pictures on the wall. Throughout the house are personal pictures of the bankrupt and his wife," Mr Lehane said.

Mr Dunne, who has been based in the US since 2010, denied having a shareholding in Traviata and said he only stayed at the house "from time to time, though very infrequently".

In an affidavit he said: "I do not have any legal or beneficial interest in the house, which has been used as a discretionary trust for my lineal descendants."

The looming legal proceedings over the ownership of the house come against the backdrop of allegations that Mr Dunne transferred millions of euro worth of assets to put them beyond the reach of creditors.

The one time 'Baron of Ballsbridge', who turned 60 yesterday, is involved in unprecedented dual bankruptcy cases in Ireland and the US.

He filed for voluntary bankruptcy in the US, with debts of €695m, while Ulster Bank, which he owes €165m, later had him declared bankrupt here.

Mr Dunne attempted to withdraw from the US bankruptcy last week, but this move has been opposed by NAMA and a court appointed bankruptcy trustee there.

The US trustee, Richard Coan, is considering legal action to recover tens of millions of euro transferred by Dunne to his wife, socialite turned property developer Gayle Killilea.

Mr Lehane has also been investigating Mr Dunne's financial affairs in Ireland.

He obtained a warrant to search the K Club house in November last year after receiving "credible information" that Dunne might be moving valuable artwork out of the country.

His staff discovered in excess of 100 items, including documentation, paintings and prints, which had been packed or bubble wrapped "as though for transport". A "false wall" and an empty safe were also found.

Dunne denied owning most of the artwork and said what he did own was of little value.

Many of the items seized have been returned to his relatives.

Irish Independent

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