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Thursday 14 December 2017

Bankrupt developer Dunne plans to work 'into his 70s' in the US

Sean Dunne: in bid to overturn bankruptcy order here
Sean Dunne: in bid to overturn bankruptcy order here

Tim Healy

BANKRUPT developer Sean Dunne cannot think of any circumstances where he would return to Ireland and instead hopes to work in the US "into his 70s", the High Court heard.

The Carlow-born businessman (59) hopes, following discharge from US bankruptcy, to work in business in America as he considers it offers the best economic opportunity for his family.

He intends to stay in the US indefinitely, "most likely for the remainder of my life". Of his six children from two marriages, five live in America and one in Ireland, he revealed in court affidavits.

Mr Dunne is seeking orders to overturn a High Court decision last July granting Ulster Bank's petition, supported by NAMA, to have him adjudicated bankrupt here, arising from default on loans of €161m made for properties in Dublin.

Opposing the application, Ulster Bank disputes Mr Dunne's claims he abandoned Ireland in favour of the US.

The bank claims his statements fall well short of showing a clear intent not to return here.

It claims Mr Dunne had told the Irish media, after he filed for bankruptcy in the US, he intended to return to do business again in Ireland one day.

In addition, it referred to stories stating he and his wife hoped to have their sons educated in secondary schools here. His mother, daughter and siblings still live in Ireland, it noted.

The bank also claims Mr Dunne continues to have business and property interests here, has an Irish credit card and Irish mobile phone.

It claims he retains joint ownership with his second wife Gayle Killilea, of their former home at Shrewsbury Road, Dublin. There was no certainty about Mr Dunne's residency in the US beyond the term of his non-immigrant E-2 treaty investor visa, the court heard.

Dealing with those claims, Mr Dunne said he and Ms Killilea had decided in 2006 that they would not live in Ireland. They now live in Greenwich, Connecticut, with their three young children, he said.


He said the rental of his former family home at Shrewsbury Road, to the South African embassy, for about €200,000 a year up to 2014, could not be construed as a business interest.

That property is mortgaged to Bank of Scotland, is secured on a €12m debt and, while once valued at €25m, is now in negative equity, he said.

Bill Shipsey, for Mr Dunne, told Mr Justice Brian McGovern his client has no assets here that could be administered in a bankruptcy case. It was argued there was no entitlement to adjudicate him bankrupt in Ireland as he had already been made bankrupt in the US.

In filing for bankruptcy in the US, Mr Dunne claimed to have debts of $1bn and assets of $55m.

The hearing continues.

Irish Independent

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