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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Sean, Gayle and a 'secret' Swiss bank account

NAMA claims 'Baron of Ballsbridge' Dunne failed to disclose details of account

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

Published 23/07/2014 | 02:30

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Sean Dunne and wife Gayle Killilea
Property developer Sean Dunne and his wife Gayle Killilea. Ray Cullen

BUST developer Sean Dunne kept the existence of a Swiss bank account secret, NAMA has claimed.

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The sensational allegation was made after details of the account – allegedly controlled by Mr Dunne and his wife Gayle Killilea – were unearthed by the State's bad bank.

It said the Credit Suisse account was not among the 11 declared by Mr Dunne when he filed for bankruptcy in the US last year with debts of €695m.

The agency, which is owed €185m by Mr Dunne, is now taking legal steps in a bid to force him to surrender information about it.

The move comes after a separate law suit involving Mr Dunne last year heard claims that the Carlow-born businessman pledged to invest $1m (€745,000) from a Swiss account in a New York builder's business.

While no documentary evidence of the account was produced in that court case, NAMA says it has unearthed bank statements which indicate a Swiss account existed.

The allegation marks the latest chapter in the increasingly bitter legal battles the couple have become embroiled in and comes just weeks after Ms Killilea was forced to deny that they had secretly divorced.

In a filing made with a court in Connecticut, a NAMA subsidiary, National Asset Loan Management Ltd (NALM), said it came into possession of this information after subpoenaing Ms Killilea's former immigration lawyer Philip Teplen.

Mr Teplen provided NAMA with statements from a Swiss account "apparently maintained jointly by the debtor and his wife", it told the court.

"The account was not scheduled and no documents concerning the account have been produced to NALM in this case," the filing stated.

It went on to say that Mr Dunne, once dubbed the 'Baron of Ballsbridge' over his ambitious and ultimately doomed plans to build a Knightsbridge-style development in the Dublin suburb, was "perfectly capable" of disclosing financial information "when it suits him, but has chosen not to do so".

Mr Dunne and his wife lived in Switzerland before moving to Connecticut – where they still reside – in 2010.

Since relocating there, Ms Killilea, a former socialite, has reinvented herself as a property developer in her own right.

In October last year NALM requested the voluntary disclosure of bank account information and other material, including emails relating to Mr Dunne's financial affairs, credit card statements, receipts, utility and tax bills, pay stubs, tax returns and records relating to properties in Switzerland, Connecticut and New York.

However, it claims only a small number of documents were provided to it.

It is seeking an order compelling Mr Dunne to hand over the information, claiming he has either not searched for it or is deliberately withholding it.

NAMA has objected to the discharge of Mr Dunne's debts, claiming he “knowingly and fraudulently” gave misleading information when filing for bankruptcy and during creditor meetings.

The legal move comes as Mr Dunne and his wife's finances are undergoing forensic scrutiny by NAMA and a US bankruptcy trustee ahead of his bankruptcy trial next January.

The trustee, Richard Coan, has claimed Mr Dunne transferred over €100m in assets to his wife for “no or nominal consideration”.

Trustee

Among the issues being probed by the trustee is a Swiss family law case where Ms Killilea secured a €31m judgment against her husband.

That case prompted Mr Coan and Ulster Bank, which is owed €150m by Mr Dunne, to query whether the couple were still married. Ms Killilea has said they are still very much together.

NAMA has been seeking to call Mr Teplen as a witness in its proceedings against Mr Dunne, as it believes he has knowledge of at least one of a series of property deals involving Ms Killilea.

It alleges these deals put millions of euro beyond the reach of creditors, an allegation denied by Ms Killilea and Mr Dunne.

NAMA has been seeking to ascertain whether Mr Dunne benefited from the sales, which were conducted by his wife.

Mr Teplen became embroiled in a high-profile dispute with Ms Killilea after she alleged he misappropriated $500,000 (€367,200) intended for a property deal.

She later secured a judgment for $83,333 (€61,200) against the New York lawyer, but he never paid |the money and recently filed for bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, NAMA is resisting a request from Mr Dunne for its chief executive Brendan McDonagh to give a deposition in the US.

Mr Dunne's lawyers wish to question Mr McDonagh about NAMA's handling of the developer's portfolio. However, Mr McDonagh has said he had no hands-on role in the portfolio and has objected to being called as a witness.

NAMA has provided the court with the names of two other staff who have “direct, personal and unique knowledge” of the case.

Irish Independent

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