Tuesday 20 March 2018

'No meaningful cooperation' by developer Dunne in bankruptcy case

Sean Dunne.
Sean Dunne.
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Property developer Sean Dunne has repeatedly failed to cooperate with the Insolvency Service official handling his bankruptcy, the High Court has been told.

Official assignee Christopher Lehane said he had been forced into a lengthy investigation of Mr Dunne's affairs due to the businessman's failure to engage with him since he was adjudicated bankrupt in 2013.

The claim was made in an affidavit filed by Mr Lehane in support of an application to have Mr Dunne's period of bankruptcy temporarily extended. Mr Dunne had been due to exit bankruptcy at the end of the month.

However, the High Court extended the period indefinitely last Monday. The situation will be reviewed in October.

Carlow-born Mr Dunne, who now lives in the US, has debts of close to €700m.

In the affidavit, which has been seen by the Irish Independent, Mr Lehane said Mr Dunne had yet to provide him with a statement of affairs or to meet with him face-to-face despite a series of requests.

He said Mr Dunne had been in Ireland to watch international rugby matches but never made himself available to the Insolvency Service.

"The bankrupt has not provided any information to me in respect of assets which appear ostensibly to be beneficially owned by him or in respect of transactions that defy explanation," said Mr Lehane.

He said that between July 2013 and January of this year "no attempt was made to co- operate in any meaningful way".

Since then Mr Dunne has offered to meet the official assignee, but he has not been available on suggested dates.

Mr Lehane said extensive investigations had been unable to uncover the true ownership of assets linked to Mr Dunne, including Ireland's most expensive home, Walford, on Dublin's Shrewsbury Road.

The Edwardian-era property was purchased by Mr Dunne for €58m in 2005 and then given to his wife, socialite turned developer Gayle Killilea. It was sold to a Cyprus-registered company in 2013 and the beneficial ownership of the property is now unknown.

Mr Lehane said he had not even been able to establish where Mr Dunne lives. An address supplied by the developer in Connecticut has been vacant for two years, he said.

The official assignee said Mr Dunne's wife had testified in legal proceedings that she was not supporting her husband's lifestyle or litigation he was involved in.

He noted that this had not stopped Mr Dunne from being able to travel between the USA, Ireland, Britain and South Africa and said he was seeking to establish how Mr Dunne funded this travel. Investigations into Mr Dunne's affairs had been "complex" and Mr Lehane had been forced to obtain information piecemeal from law firms and other professionals, sometimes having to compel them to under Section 21 of the Bankruptcy Act.

The official assignee also said he had initiated legal proceedings to undo two agreements between Mr Dunne and his wife which saw assets worth around €100m transferred to Ms Killilea.

"The agreements are unusual transactions and the contention of the proceedings is that they are not enforceable and are liable to be set aside," he said.

Irish Independent

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