Wednesday 29 January 2020

Bankrupt tycoon Sean Dunne tells trial he 'didn't need furniture to live in house'

Sean Dunne denies failing to provide his home address. Photo: Collins Courts
Sean Dunne denies failing to provide his home address. Photo: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

Bankrupt businessman Sean Dunne has said that even though his home in the US was empty, he "didn't need furniture to live in a house".

Mr Dunne yesterday told the High Court he has lived on occasions without furniture and that he had previously stayed in tents in African townships.

He was giving evidence yesterday in opposition to an application by the official assignee (OA) in bankruptcy, Chris Lehane, to have his bankruptcy period extended for non-co-operation, including failing to provide the OA with his address.

Mr Dunne said he believed private investigators working for his creditors had leaked the address to the media.

In 2013, Ulster Bank petitioned the High Court to have Mr Dunne adjudicated bankrupt here after he had defaulted on loans of €164m.

The following month, Mr Dunne filed for bankruptcy in Connecticut in the US when he claimed to have debts of $1bn and assets of $55m (€44.5m).

Arising out of that application a US bankruptcy trustee was appointed by a US court.

The Irish bankruptcy proceedings continued and in July 2013 the High Court adjudicated Mr Dunne bankrupt.

Mr Dunne said he had given "de facto co-operation" to Mr Lehane through the US trustee and denied claims he had not co-operated with the process.

He said that in 2013 he believed his bankruptcy, adjudication and estate were all to be vested in the US. However, he was adjudicated bankrupt in Ireland and the US trustee and his lawyer went "behind my back" and changed the rules without telling him.

Under cross-examination by Mark Sanfey SC, for Mr Lehane, in relation to sworn statements Mr Dunne provided in opposition to the application, Mr Dunne rejected an assertion by counsel that he never provided the OA with his address.

Mr Dunne said following the 2013 adjudication his primary place of residence was Stillman Lane, Greenwich, Connecticut and he lived in America. He had provided an address and always turned up when required.

Mr Dunne said his family had left the property in August/September 2013 due to media harassment.

When it was put to him that agents for the US trustee found the Connecticut house empty and it had no furniture, Mr Dunne replied he "didn't need furniture to live in a house".

When counsel said it was important for the OA to know where a bankrupt is living, Mr Dunne asked if it mattered where he lived, or its relevance to creditors. "If I lived in Windsor Castle does that mean I have access to the queen's money?" he said. The case continues.

Irish Independent

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