Gayle Killilea in new bid to save her €100m 'gift'
Wife of bankrupt developer Sean Dunne takes High Court case to save assets transferred to her name
Published 10/05/2015 | 02:30
Gayle Killilea, the wife of developer Sean Dunne, has opened up a new front in her battle to prevent the seizure of millions of euro in assets he transferred to her 10 years ago, the Sunday Independent has learned.
Lawyers for Ms Killilea will tomorrow ask the High Court in Dublin to strike out proceedings being brought by Official Assignee Chris Lehane in which he is seeking the reversal of multi-million euro asset transfers made by Mr Dunne as part of agreement drawn up with his wife in March 2005, following the birth of their first son, Bobby Luke. As part of that €100m deal, the former 'Baron of Ballsbridge' gave Ms Killilea numerous valuable assets including his interest in the exclusive Lagoon Beach Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa, the former Irish Glass Bottle sports club site in south Dublin and the contents of the couple's former Shrewsbury Road home. While the official assignee believes these and other transfers to have been fraudulent and executed by Mr Dunne in an effort to deprive his creditors of millions of euro owed to them, both the developer and his wife have strenuously denied that claim.
In an affidavit filed with the High Court last Tuesday, Ms Killilea argues that the action being brought by the Official Assignee should be struck out on the basis that it duplicates a case already being pursued against her by her husband's US bankruptcy trustee, Richard Coan, whose appointment preceded that of Mr Lehane by several months.
Commenting on this, Ms Killilea states: "It is clear from any analysis of the complaint and the statement of claim that the Official Assignee and the US bankruptcy trustee are making near identical fraudulent transfer allegations in two different proceedings... and are both claiming to be entitled to the same assets."
Ms Killilea describes the situation as "perverse" and complains that she shouldn't be expected to defend what she says are the "same allegations" in two proceedings in different jurisdictions.
In a further and quite extraordinary claim, she alleges that the actions being taken here and in the United States are being "artificially separated" from each other, in an approach which leaves her "severely prejudiced" and is "patently oppressive".
Ms Killilea - a former social diarist turned property developer - claims the decision by the Official Assignee to pursue her in relation to the same asset transfers as the US bankruptcy trustee is an "abuse of process".
She also complains that she can't be expected to fund her defence in "almost identical cases" while putting herself in jeopardy of having to suffer conflicting judicial decisions on the same issues in different jurisdictions.
Calling on the High Court to strike out the Official Assignee's case, Ms Killilea says in her affidavit that the US proceedings are "broader in scope" and, as such, the courts of the United States are the "obvious jurisdiction" for the resolution of the case being pursued against her.
While confirming that her husband is bankrupt both here and in the United States, she points out that the developer who, at the height of the boom, dreamt of bringing a piece of Knightsbridge to Ballsbridge, declared bankruptcy in the US first.
This, Ms Killilea argues, gives the US bankruptcy courts jurisdiction over the developer and his bankruptcy estate, notwithstanding a decision by an American judge to allow Mr Dunne's single biggest creditor, the Ulster Bank, limited relief in June 2013 to seek to have him declared bankrupt here in Ireland.
Ms Killilea notes that the very legality of the decision to have Mr Dunne adjudicated bankrupt in Ireland when he was already bankrupt in the United States is currently being considered by the Supreme Court, and that a decision on the matter is imminent.