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Saturday 16 December 2017

Bank in new bid to establish whether Dunne and Killilea are still married

Sean Dunne and Gayle Killilea. Photo: Tony Gavin
Sean Dunne and Gayle Killilea. Photo: Tony Gavin
Sean Dunne: with wife, Gayle Killilea, although their marital status is being queried by Ulster Bank
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

ULSTER Bank has joined a US bankruptcy official in questioning the marital status of bust developer Sean Dunne and socialite Gayle Killilea.

In court filings seen by the Irish Independent, the lender describes Ms Killilea as Mr Dunne's 'wife or ex-wife'.

The bank is supporting moves by a US bankruptcy official to compel Mr Dunne to divulge details of family law proceedings involving him in Ireland and Switzerland.

The US-based ex-developer, who has filed for bankruptcy with debts of €695m, has previously revealed Ms Killilea sued him over a $44m (€32.5m) debt after he failed to honour a 2005 agreement to give her €100m.

However, he declined to go into further detail, citing Swiss court rules surrounding family cases.

The couple were married in 2004 and have three children, but bankruptcy official Richard Coan last month openly questioned whether they were still husband and wife.

Although Ms Killilea told the press they were still very much married, the couple has not formally responded to the claim in the US bankruptcy court.

Ulster Bank has now joined Mr Coan in questioning the status of their relationship.

In a court filing this week, the bank said Mr Dunne and Ms Killilea were relying on the 'in camera' rule as a reason for not divulging documents linked to the family law proceedings.

However, the bank claims this was not a feasible reason for their refusal to turn over the documents.

It also called for Mr Dunne to be held in contempt of court for not complying with orders to hand over information.

The lender is one of Mr Dunne's biggest creditors and helped bankroll his €380m purchase of the Towers Hotel and Jurys Hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin.

That purchase, which led to the Carlow-born developer being dubbed the 'Baron of Ballsbridge', proved disastrous and he was never able to get plans for a Knightsbridge-style development there off the ground.


Ulster Bank secured a €150m judgment against Mr Dunne prior to him declaring himself bankrupt in Connecticut last year.

He moved there with Ms Killilea, a former gossip columnist and socialite, in 2010.

Prior to that, they had lived in Geneva, Switzerland.

She has since reinvented herself as a developer in her own right, buying and refurbishing houses before selling them on.

Ms Killilea has previous agreed to provide the US bankruptcy court with details of the family law proceedings she took against Mr Dunne, provided she receives assurances the information will not be made public. However, this offer has not been taken up.

Mr Coan is investigating the transfer of more than €100m in assets to Ms Killilea "for no or nominal consideration".

If Mr Dunne loses proceedings in the US, he would not be able to complete the bankruptcy process and would subsequently have no protection from his creditors.

A parallel bankruptcy case is also taking place in Ireland.

Irish Independent

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