Monday 11 December 2017

Gayle Dunne ordered not to reduce assets below €50m

Gayle Killilea and Sean Dunne
Gayle Killilea and Sean Dunne
Sean Dunne with wife Gayle Killilea

Tim Healy

GAYLE Dunne, wife of bankrupt developer Sean Dunne, has been ordered by a court not to reduce her assets below €50m amid concerns that efforts are being made to put his assets beyond the reach of creditors.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern, who presides over the Commercial Court, made the temporary order pending a hearing of further proceedings.

He said there was a strong prima facie case that Mrs Dunne and her husband were "involved in an elaborate scheme" to frustrate  efforts to administer Mr Dunne's affairs by the court-appointed official in Ireland, as well as of the equivalent official in the US.

The evidence for much of that case was based on "glaring inconsistencies" in what has been said by Mrs Dunne in court, in documents and in exhibits provided to the court, he said.

Mr Dunne himself referred in an affidavit about gifting €60m in assets to his wife, he said.   There was also detailed evidence of the lengths both Dunnes had gone to to conceal assets from the bankruptcy official and of a significant lack of co-operation.

The application by official assignee in bankruptcy seeking the order over Mrs Dunne's assets followed the sale for €14m of a house in Shrewsbury Road, Dublin, which Mr Dunne says he gifted to his wife in 2005.  Walford had been bought by Mr Dunne for €58m, making it Ireland's most expensive house.

The net proceeds from the sale of "Walford", some €12m in 2013, are to be held in a third party escrow account until a legal bar on the sale, a lis pendens, is resolved, the court heard.

Mark Sanfey SC, for the official assigee Chiris Lehane, said given what had happened with Walford, his cient was concerned there would be nothing for Mr Dunne's creditors at the end of the process.

His side had no faith in a proposed undertaking about putting the Walford proceeds into escrow from the Cyrpiot company, Yezreb, which had bought the house. The money would come out of escrow when the legal problem is resolved.

Mr Sanfey said Yezreb was incorporated in Limassol five weeks before Mr Dunne's bankruptcy and was essentially a shell company.

Mark Binchy BL, for Mrs Dunne, said his client would be fully contesting the claims made against her. 

Counsel opposed the interim order for €50m, but would not oppose one meeting the net value of Walford (€12m) in circumstances where the money would be in escrow pending further proceedings.

Mr Justice McGovern said he was granting the order that Mrs Dunne not reduce her assets below €50m.  He refused an application from Mr Binchy for a stay on his order.

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