Sunday 19 August 2018

Dunne 'misled' bankruptcy official over €58m mansion for his wife, court hears

Sean Dunne is accused of misleading an official. Picture: Collins
Sean Dunne is accused of misleading an official. Picture: Collins

Aodhan O'Faolain

Businessman Sean Dunne "misled" and was "as obstructive as he could possibly be" in relation to his dealings with a Dublin 4 property when questioned by the official in charge of his Irish bankruptcy, the High Court has heard.

Mark Sanfey SC, for the Official Assignee (OA) Chris Lehane, told the court yesterday that Mr Dunne gave certain answers about the 'Walford' property during a June 2016 interview with the OA which was clearly non-co-operation.

The OA claims Walford forms part of Mr Dunne's estate.

Mr Dunne denies this and says he bought the property in trust for his wife Gayle for €58m in 2005.

The questions concerned a Cypriot company called Yesreb Holdings, whose ultimate beneficiaries are his children, which acquired Walford from Mr Dunne's wife Gayle in 2013.

Counsel said the businessman gave answers about Yesreb aimed at "concealing information" about a potential sale of Walford, which ultimately did not proceed.

Mr Sanfey said Mr Dunne had admitted in his evidence acting as an agent for Yesreb during the failed sale process.

Mr Dunne's motivation for his answers was that if Walford had been sold it would have been much more difficult for the OA in his investigations to follow the cash compared with an asset such as a house.

Counsel said during his evidence to the High Court that Mr Dunne denied misleading the OA during the interview.

Mr Dunne did admit not giving the OA details concerning Yesreb in the interview because Ms Dunne had asked him not to as it was her business.

Counsel said that in June 2016 the OA lacked information about Yesreb, which he did not obtain until December 2016 from third parties. Mr Sanfey was making submissions in an application by the OA to extend Mr Dunne's bankruptcy on the grounds of non-co-operation.

He said the application, which the businessman opposes, was not to punish Mr Dunne but to protect the integrity of the bankruptcy code where there is no co-operation.

Counsel said there had been no co-operation by Mr Dunne until early 2016. Mr Dunne failed to file a statement of affairs nor a statement of personal interests until spring 2016.

The application continues tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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