Wednesday 17 January 2018

Court denies Dunne right to quiz bankruptcy trustee over series of claims

Seán Dunne went bankrupt in 2013 with massive debts. Photo: Courts Collins
Seán Dunne went bankrupt in 2013 with massive debts. Photo: Courts Collins
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Bust developer Seán Dunne has failed to secure permission from the High Court to allow his lawyers to cross-examine his bankruptcy trustee.

The request was rejected by Ms Justice Caroline Costello, who found Mr Dunne had failed to demonstrate any conflicting information existed in affidavits filed by official assignee Christopher Lehane.

Mr Dunne had been seeking to have Mr Lehane quizzed after the bankruptcy official made a series of allegations against the one time 'Baron of Ballsbridge', who went bankrupt in 2013 with debts of close to €700m.

Mr Lehane is seeking to extend Mr Dunne's period of bankruptcy while he investigates his belief the developer and his wife benefited to the tune of €12m from the recent sale to a Dermot Desmond-linked trust of Walford, a property on Dublin's Shrewsbury Road.

He also alleged Mr Dunne failed to co-operate in the realisation of assets for creditors and hid or failed to disclose income and assets.

In a written submission to the court, Mr Dunne said Mr Lehane had obtained a freezing order against the Lagoon Beach Hotel in South Africa and had issued proceedings against his wife, Gayle Killilea, and his son, John Dunne, "seeking to void bona fide transfers to me".

Mr Dunne argued that as those proceedings were not concluded, Mr Lehane could not in fact state that he had failed to disclose income or assets.

He claimed it was "equitable and just" that his lawyers be allowed to cross-examine Mr Lehane given the gravity of his application to extend the bankruptcy period.

But in a ruling yesterday, Ms Justice Costello said cross-examination of Mr Lehane was not necessary for any issue which needed to be determined by the court.

"In this application it is the bankrupt's conduct which is under scrutiny, not that of the official assignee," she said.

She said Mr Dunne had not demonstrated the probable presence of conflict in affidavits filed by Mr Lehane.

The judge also said the court should be sparing in its exercise of powers to allow bankruptcy officials to be cross-examined.

Irish Independent

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