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Seán Dunne threat to 'claw back' millions if he fails to block ex-wife's move

Killilea planning to use funds in Swiss account to settle US lawsuit

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Dispute: Seán Dunne and Gayle Killilea

Dispute: Seán Dunne and Gayle Killilea

Dispute: Seán Dunne and Gayle Killilea

Bankrupt property developer Seán Dunne has suggested he could take legal action to "claw back" millions of euro held in a Swiss bank account if he fails in a bid to block his ex-wife Gayle Killilea from using it to settle a US lawsuit.

The move is the latest twist in a furious row that has erupted between the former Celtic Tiger couple in recent weeks.

Mr Dunne claims the cash should go to a trust for the four young children he had with Ms Killilea, who was his second wife. But this has been hotly disputed by her lawyers, who say the children have "no direct claim whatsoever" to the funds.

A jury in Connecticut last year ordered Ms Killilea to pay €18m to Mr Dunne's bankruptcy trustee after concluding that various assets, including Dublin mansion Walford, were fraudulently transferred to her.

According to court filings, a settlement was recently reached between her and bankruptcy trustee Richard Coan and is due to be finalised shortly. But Mr Dunne issued proceedings in New York's Supreme Court ultimately aimed at blocking his ex-wife from using funds held by a Cypriot firm, Yesreb Holdings Ltd, as part of the settlement.

The injunction proceedings seek to restrain his son John, who owns Yesreb, from releasing the cash, which is owed to Ms Killilea, his stepmother.

The company is said to be holding "less than €13.5m" in an escrow account in Switzerland, proceeds from the sale of Walford in 2016 to a trust linked to financier Dermot Desmond.

In the legal wrangling that has ensued since Mr Dunne issued the proceedings in late January, Mr Coan and John Dunne had the matter transferred to a State court.

Now Mr Dunne is seeking to have it remitted back to the New York Supreme Court.

In a filing in support of the motion, Mr Dunne claims if the money is used to fund his ex-wife's settlement, their children "will be robbed of benefits owed to them".

He claimed it would be considered "a fraudulent transfer that could be the subject of further litigation to claw back the fund". He also claimed his ex-wife already had "ample" funds to use in the settlement.

But Mr Coan has accused Mr Dunne of seeking to thwart the settlement. He said the claim Yesreb funds were owed to a trust for the four children was "demonstrably false".

The trustee has been working with the Official Assignee in Bankruptcy in Ireland, Christopher Lehane, to recover assets for creditors.

The High Court in Dublin heard yesterday that three sets of proceedings, all with some link to Mr Dunne's bankruptcy or Walford had been settled.

Mr Lehane agreed to lift a lis pendens registered by him over Walford and to consent to a declaration the Desmond trust had acquired good title to the property.

Mr Justice Denis McDonald also struck out, on consent, proceedings Mr Lehane had against Yesreb.

Irish Independent