Saturday 20 January 2018

Gayle Killilea in bid to stop trustee recovering millions

Gayle Killilea Dunne and Sean Dunne were married in 2004. Photo by Edmund Ross
Gayle Killilea Dunne and Sean Dunne were married in 2004. Photo by Edmund Ross
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

THE wife of bust developer Sean Dunne is seeking to halt a US legal action aimed at recovering millions of euros in assets he transferred to her.

Former gossip columnist Gayle Killilea has objected to the legal case proceeding on a number of technical grounds.

In a filing to a court in Connecticut, USA, where the couple have lived since 2010, she objected to moves by a bankruptcy trustee to pursue the legal proceedings.

The bankruptcy trustee has said that he believes the Carlow-born developer had transferred more than €100m to his wife for “no or nominal consideration”.

The trustee, Richard Coan,  has been seeking to join forces with NAMA in a lawsuit against 60-year-old Mr Dunne, who has debts of almost €700m.

NAMA has claimed Mr Dunne fraudulently transferred large sums to his wife – and that the cash was used by her to fund property investments.

In the court filings yesterday, Ms Killilea challenged moves by the trustee to have the case moved from a US state court to a federal court.

She also claimed the trustee violated a “stay” on proceedings, which had been in place for three years.

Lawyers for Ms Killilea further claimed Mr Coan was not legally entitled to intervene.

The move is the latest twist in the lengthy legal battles which have raged ever since Mr Dunne moved to the US as his property empire crumbled.

Mr Dunne waived his right to walk away debt-free last December, claiming he did not have the resources to fight NAMA.

The couple do not deny that assets were transferred to Ms Killilea.

Affection

However, they maintain this was done at a time when he was highly successful – and not when there were any question marks over his solvency.

Mr Dunne previously said that he gave his wife €100m in 2005 “for her love and affection”. The couple have denied any fraudulent behaviour.

NAMA has been seeking to enforce a €185m judgment it secured against Mr Dunne several years ago.

Initially, it launched a case against him in 2012 in a bid to recover the money owed.

However, this was delayed by other developments in Mr Dunne’s bankruptcy case and was only reactivated late last year.

In Ms Killilea’s filing, her lawyer said it was difficult to understand why the trustee was seeking to join forces with NAMA.

She claimed this was simply duplicating other litigation.

Court cases involving Mr Dunne’s assets are also set to continue this year in Dublin and South Africa.

The one-time ‘Baron of Ballsbridge’ met his future wife at the Galway Races, and they married in 2004. 

The wedding took place at the height of the Celtic Tiger on board the Christina O, the yacht once owned by Aristotle Onassis.

Irish Independent

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