Monday 18 June 2018

Application to extend Sean Dunne's Irish bankruptcy opens before High Court

Sean Dunne pictured at the Four Courts after the opening day of a High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts
Sean Dunne pictured at the Four Courts after the opening day of a High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts

Aodhan O'Faolain

An application to extend businessman Sean Dunne's Irish bankruptcy due to alleged non co-operation has opened before the High Court.

At the High Court on Tuesday lawyers acting for the the Official Assignee in Bankruptcy Mr Chris Lehane, the official in charge of the administration of Mr Dunne's estate, said the extension was being sought on several grounds, including his failure to provide information on assets allegedly under his control at the time he was adjudicated a bankrupt.

Opening the application, which is opposed by the businessman who denies not co-operating with the OA, Mark Sanfey SC for Mr Lehane said Mr Dunne did not co-operate with his client between 2013 to early 2016.

Counsel said the lack of co-operation included a failure by Mr Dunne to provide the OA with his address and a failure to provide Mr Lehane with information and explanations concerning assets Mr Dunne "either owned or ostensibly controlled at the time of his adjudication."   

Some of these assets it has been claimed are not owned by Mr Dunne but by members of his family or held in trusts and are not part of the bankrupt's estate.

It is also claimed Mr Dunne did not attend for interview with the OA, which he was required to do, until early 2016.

Mr Dunne's Irish bankruptcy, was due to expire July 2016 , but has been extended pending the outcome of the full hearing concerning whether any extension, which can be for a maximum five years, should be granted.

Ulster Bank petitioned the High Court in February 2013 to have Mr Dunne adjudicated bankrupt here over default on some €164m loans.

The following month, Mr Dunne filed for bankruptcy in Connecticut, US,  when he claimed to have debts of $1bn and assets of $55m.

In May 2016 Mr Lehane initiated the bankruptcy extension application due to Mr Dunne's alleged non-coperation,

Mr Dunne, represented by Barra McGrory QC, denies the allegations he has failed to co-operate and has opposed the application to have his bankruptcy extended..

Several parties involved in the case are to be cross examined on sworn statements provided to the court.

The first witness to take the stand was US lawyer Mr Timothy Miltenberger, the lawyer acting for the "Chapter 7" trustee dealing with Mr Dunne's US bankruptcy.

Under cross examination from Mr McGrory Mr Miltenberger said Mr Dunne had not fully co-operated with his client.

When it was put to him by counsel that attempts were made to keep Mr Dunne in bankruptcy Mr Miltenberger said he had written to the OA's lawyers in November 2016 expressing his client's fears Mr Dunne might not co-operate with the US trustee if the businessman was discharged from his Irish bankruptcy.

The lack of co-operation was  in relation to US court proceedings against other parties arising out of the bankruptcy, although it was accepted Mr Dunne himself is not a party to those proceedings.  

Both Mr Lehane and Mr Dunne are due to be cross examined during the hearing,

The application, being heard by Ms Justice Caroline Costello continues. and is expected to last for several days.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News