Monday 19 March 2018

Dunne's wife hits back at 'inaccurate' fraud allegations

Gayle Killilea
Gayle Killilea

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

THE wife of businessman Sean Dunne has hit back at claims she and her husband have defrauded his creditors.

Gayle Killilea said the couple has been portrayed "in an egregiously inaccurate light" after a US bankruptcy trustee sought the return of tens of millions of euro in assets the Carlow-born developer gave to her before he went bust.

In an affidavit seen by the Irish Independent, Ms Killilea insisted she had "properly received gifts" from her husband between 2005 and 2008 "when he was solvent and worth more than €500m".

The comments, made by lawyers acting on Ms Killilea's behalf, are the latest salvo in what is becoming an increasingly convoluted and protracted bankruptcy case.

The trustee, Richard Coan, joined forces with Nama, one of Mr Dunne's largest creditors, in a lawsuit against the couple last January.

They allege Mr Dunne, who has debts of close to €700m, concealed assets from creditors and fraudulently transferred them to his wife.

Mr Coan has further claimed Mr Dunne is using businesses set up in the name of his wife to carrying on his property development activities in Connecticut, where the couple have lived since 2010.

He has asked a US court to set aside or cancel transfers and to issue a declaration that assets given to Ms Killilea or to companies nominally owned by her were always Mr Dunne's property.

This would allow the trustee to go after properties and other assets held by Ms Killilea.

However, in a legal filing, lawyers for Ms Killilea went on the offensive against Mr Coan.

They claimed the trustee and Nama had besmirched her character "through inaccurate recitations of purported facts".

The affidavit disputed claims that the couple obstructed the investigation of their financial affairs, stating that an offer was made to voluntarily disclose information to Nama two-and-a-half years ago.

It also claims Ms Killilea offered to make voluntary disclosures about family law cases in Ireland and Switzerland, but her offer was never accepted.

It is further claimed the trustee used convoluted and improper procedures in getting involved in the lawsuit, which was originally filed by a Nama subsidiary, the National Asset Loan Management Ltd, in 2012.

Ms Killilea is seeking to deny Mr Coan the right to intervene in the case.

Nama's initial lawsuit sought to stop Mr Dunne from dissipating funds from the $5.5m (€5m) sale of a house linked to him in the upmarket town of Greenwich, Connecticut. However, the case was put on hold after Mr Dunne filed for bankruptcy.

The proceedings were reactivated when Mr Dunne waived his right to be discharged from his debts, claiming he could not afford to continue fighting a legal battle to achieve a fresh financial start.

Mr Dunne is also involved in bankruptcy proceedings in Ireland. Last month, he lodged an appeal against the High Court's refusal to set aside his Irish bankruptcy.

Irish Independent

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