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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Killilea lawyers get go-ahead to quiz NAMA bosses in US

Orlaith Farrell Connecticut

Published 20/02/2013 | 04:00

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Gayle Killilea, wife of Sean Dunne, outside court in Stamford, Connecticut

NAMA managing director Brendan McDonagh is set to be quizzed by lawyers for Gayle Killilea as part of the toxic bank's US legal dispute with the socialite-turned-developer.

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A judge yesterday gave permission for Ms Killilea's legal team to question both Mr McDonagh and former NAMA recovery manager John Coleman as part of the case.

Both men now face having to fly to the US to provide depositions to Ms Killilea's lawyers – with eight hours being set aside for each to be questioned.

NAMA is suing Ms Killilea and her husband, heavily indebted developer Sean Dunne, claiming they have been developing property and making millions of euro while Mr Dunne has failed to pay his debts.

Mr Dunne owes NAMA €185m, while his debts to Ulster Bank, which is seeking to bankrupt him, amount to €164m.

The allegations have been denied by the Dunnes, who say Ms Killilea used her own money to fund land deals in the US and Switzerland.

Jurisdiction

However, Ms Killilea is seeking to have the case thrown out, claiming NAMA has no jurisdiction in the US.

The couple set up a home in the millionaires' enclave of Greenwich, Connecticut, in 2010.

Yesterday, at a court in Stamford, Connecticut, Ms Killilea launched her legal bid to have the case thrown out. Dressed in black with her hair in a ponytail, Ms Killilea sipped on  water and took notes during the hearing. Her husband was not present.

Legal arguments centred on whether the Connecticut Court had jurisdiction to decide if the transfer of an apartment in Geneva, Switzerland, from Mr Dunne to wife Gayle in 2010 was fraudulent.

Ms Killilea's legal team argued that the Swiss sale involved two Irish citizens a year-and-a-half before they even moved to the US so it was "beyond the reach of any of the statues of the Connecticut Court" and should be thrown out.

The pair rent a home in a gated community in the wealthy suburb of Greenwich, and NAMA lawyer Thomas Rechen told the Stamford judge that "it doesn't matter where they were when the Swiss transaction occurred, the fact of the matter is, they are here now".

"What they want to have happen while they strenuously profess their innocence, they want to break this case down into little, itty-bitty pieces. Sue us in Ireland for any Irish offences, sue us in Switzerland for any Swiss offences, sue us in Connecticut for Connecticut offences," he added.

"This complex scheme of fraudulent transactions that we have alleged, they want to break it down and make it all very innocuous and mundane," he added.

Transfer

Ms Killilea's lawyers claimed that Mr Dunne was never a true owner of the Geneva property and insisted that the transfer of the apartment between two Irish citizens involved Swiss solicitors and Swiss banks so it was "beyond the reach of this court and beyond the reach of this claim".

NAMA also claims the Dunnes profited from three property deals in Greenwich.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Ms Killilea's lawyer, Phillip Russell, insisted that NAMA doesn't have a case against his client.

"It has become apparent that there is no substance to Nama's allegations against Mrs Killilea Dunne and no evidence that her financial dealings in the United States are in any way tied to money borrowed by any company which involved Mr Dunne."

A decision on the motion to dismiss NAMA's case is expected by March 18.

Irish Independent

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