Saturday 21 October 2017

Dunne says he'll never be able to pay €12m mortgage on D4 home

Shrewsbury: Gayle Killilea Dunne
Shrewsbury: Gayle Killilea Dunne
'Ouragh', the home Gayle Killilea Dunne shared with Sean Dunne

RONALD QUINLAN Special Correspondent

FORMER 'Baron of Ballsbridge' Sean Dunne has said that he will never be able to repay the €12m mortgage on his former family home on Dublin's Shrewsbury Road – despite the fact that he intends to work into his 70s.

"There is evidently no prospect of me ever repaying the principal on the loans and, accordingly, were it not for the fact that the property is let to the South African embassy, it would be in receivership," Mr Dunne said in an affidavit filed as part of his application to have his Irish bankruptcy overturned.

Judgement in the case, which concluded in Dublin's High Court last Tuesday, has been reserved by Mr Justice Brian McGovern to a later date.

The matter of Mr Dunne's ongoing ownership of 'Ouragh' is central to Ulster Bank's argument that the Carlow-born developer should be declared bankrupt here in Ireland as well as in the US, where he now lives, over his failure to repay loans of some €161m relating to his purchase of the former Jury's and Berkeley Court hotels at the height of the boom.

Pointing to the fact that the South African embassy's lease on the Shrewsbury Road house is due to expire on August 31 next year, Ulster Bank official Niall Hurson told the court that "there was nothing to prevent Mr Dunne and his family from taking up residence in the property".

Fuelling the bank's suspicions in relation to Mr Dunne's intention to return to Dublin 4, it seems there are a number of stipulations included in the embassy's lease on his former family home.

Referring to these, Mr Hurson said: "The fact that the special letting provisions in the lease provide that the dining table in the formal dining room must be covered by the special cover and cloth to protect the table top at all times and all candles burnt must be a safe distance from pictures and wall coverings, would suggest that such items are of significant value."

Responding to those claims, Mr Dunne said: "The only purpose to which Ouragh can ever viably be put is as a high-end rental property."

According to Mr Dunne, the house, which he and his wife Gayle continued living in up until January 2007, is mortgaged to the tune of some €12m with Bank of Scotland (Ireland). Annual rental payments amounting to €180,000, however, "essentially match the [interest only] loan repayments", Mr Dunne said.

Pointing to the fact that Mr Dunne and his wife had made mortgage repayments totalling €213,364 in 2011, Mr Hurson insisted it was "unusual" that they would pay the additional €33,364 themselves if it wasn't their "clear intent" to retain ownership of Ouragh.

Elsewhere in the course of last week's proceedings, lawyers for the bank sought to highlight the numerous other links Mr Dunne has maintained here in Ireland since moving to the US in 2010 by way of proving his intention to return here to live.

Among the items identified were Mr Dunne's ownership of an Irish mobile phone, a Visa credit card issued by the AIB and his visits here.

Mr Dunne took grave exception to the bank's reference to the "close relationship" he continues to have with his elderly mother, a relationship it said was "evidenced by him continuing to pay her television subscription fee over the course of 2012".

Responding to that assertion, Mr Dunne said: "The only inference I can draw from this is that the Ulster Bank Group expects me to have disowned my relationships with my 82-year-old mother, my adult daughter Elaine and my wider family as a prerequisite to establishing the bona fides of my domicile in the US."

Challenged on his claim that he has no intention of returning to live in Ireland in the future, Mr Dunne cites in his affidavit his application for a US Green Card and his intention to one day apply for US citizenship.

Sunday Independent

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