Monday 19 August 2019

Legal action looms over mansion linked to developer Dunne

Bust developer Sean Dunne
Bust developer Sean Dunne
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

An insolvency service official is expected to seek High Court orders in connection with Ireland's most expensive home, the ownership of which has been linked to bust developer Sean Dunne.

The anticipated move comes after a year-long investigation by Official Assignee Christopher Lehane, who believes Mr Dunne previously had an interest in Walford, an Edwardian-era residence on Dublin's exclusive Shrewsbury Road.

Mr Lehane is currently seeking to sue Gayle Killilea to recover allegedly fraudulent transfers worth tens of millions of euro made to her by her husband.

A lawyer acting for former journalist and socialite Ms Killilea, said it appeared Mr Lehane would be seeking orders in relation to Walford.

Mr Dunne says he gave Ms Killilea €58m as a gift so she could buy the property a decade ago.

In a filing with a US court, solicitor Kieran Johnston did not specify the nature of the orders he expected Mr Lehane to seek.

However, he said Mr Lehane was already disputing agreements between Mr Dunne and his wife in 2005 and 2008 which saw assets, including a South African hotel and shares in a building company, being transferred to Ms Killilea.

The filing was submitted as part of complex litigation initiated by Ms Killilea aimed at stopping Mr Lehane from seizing assets.

She has claimed Mr Lehane is acting in violation of an "automatic stay" which protects debtors under US bankruptcy law.

Her husband, who has debts of close to €700m, is undergoing dual bankruptcy procedures in Ireland and Connecticut, where he has lived for the past five years.

The prospect of litigation by Mr Lehane in relation to Walford could finally lead to the disclosure of who now owns the 1.8-acre property, a matter which has been shrouded in mystery.

When the property was bought in 2005 its ownership was registered in the name of a company, Matsack Nominees Ltd.

At the time Mr Dunne denied he was the beneficial owner and threatened to sue media outlets who suggested he was. Then last year he told creditors that he had gifted funds to his wife so she could buy it.

Walford was subsequently sold in 2013 for €14m to Yesreb Holding Ltd, a mysterious Cypriot-registered company whose true ownership has not been revealed.

Mr Lehane has stated it is his belief that Mr Dunne did have an interest in the property prior to its sale to Yesreb. However he does not believe that Mr Dunne is still the owner.

Irish Independent

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