Sunday 26 January 2020

Dunne finally settles €8,000 bill in bid to avoid contempt case

‘Indigent’: Seán Dunne claimed he was too poor to pay legal bill. Photo: Collins Courts
‘Indigent’: Seán Dunne claimed he was too poor to pay legal bill. Photo: Collins Courts
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Celtic Tiger-era property developer Seán Dunne has finally settled a long overdue €8,300 legal bill after a judge rejected claims he was too poor to pay.

The one-time 'Baron of Ballsbridge' is expected to escape potential contempt proceedings after paying the money on New Year's Eve - more than six months after it was due.

Mr Dunne (65) was hit with the bill last April after a US court ordered he pay up to $10,000 (€8,900) towards the legal fees of his US bankruptcy trustee Richard Coan.

He subsequently received a bill for $9,330 and had until June to settle it.

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But the Carlow-born businessman missed the deadline and later claimed he was "financially unable to comply with the order" due to bankruptcy proceedings.

A lawyer representing the Carlow-born businessman claimed he was "indigent".

But this was rejected last November by United States District Court judge Jeffrey Meyer, who said he was not persuaded Mr Dunne lacked the resources to pay the "modest amount", especially in light of the fact he had recently hired a new lawyer.

Mr Dunne finally issued a cheque for $9,330 to Mr Coan on Tuesday, according to a court filing seen by the Irish Independent.

The resolution of the row over the legal bill is just the latest twist in the sprawling legal proceedings Mr Dunne has been involved in since filing for bankruptcy in Connecticut in 2013 with debts of €700m. He and his then wife, former socialite Gayle Killilea, had relocated to the US state in 2010 following the financial crash in Ireland.

In his ruling in November, Judge Meyer said that unless the legal bill was paid he would not adjudicate on a motion from Mr Dunne for a fresh trial over claims he transferred assets to Ms Killilea to frustrate creditors.

Last June a US jury found Mr Dunne fraudulently transferred property, cash and other assets to Ms Killilea and ordered that she pay €18m to Mr Coan for the benefit of her ex-husband's creditors.

Ms Killilea has since been involved in settlement negotiations with the trustee.

Mr Dunne's lawyers are seeking a new trial or an order reducing the €18m judgment, claiming the jury's findings were contrary to the evidence.

Irish Independent

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