Friday 6 December 2019

US judge refuses to consider Dunne plea for new trial unless he pays his legal bill

Former developer Seán Dunne has a legal bill of €8,500. Photo: Collins Courts
Former developer Seán Dunne has a legal bill of €8,500. Photo: Collins Courts
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A US court has said it will not consider a request by bankrupt property developer Seán Dunne for a new trial over millions of euro in asset transfers unless he pays an €8,500 legal bill.

The one-time 'Baron of Ballsbridge' has claimed he cannot afford to comply with a court order to pay the bill, which relates to fees charged by lawyers for his bankruptcy trustee.

However, United States District Court judge Jeffrey Meyer said he was not persuaded Carlow-born Dunne (65) lacked the resources to pay the "modest amount", especially in light of the fact he had recently hired a new lawyer.

Mr Dunne is seeking a fresh trial over claims he transferred millions of euro in assets to his ex-wife Gayle Killilea (44) to frustrate creditors.

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Earlier this year a jury in Connecticut found he fraudulently transferred property, cash and other assets to Ms Killilea and ordered her to pay €18m to trustee Richard Coan for the benefit of her ex-husband's creditors.

Ms Killilea has since been involved in settlement negotiations with the trustee.

In a ruling on Monday, Judge Meyer said the court would not adjudicate on Mr Dunne's motion for a new trial until the businessman paid the legal bill, other post-verdict motions had been dealt with and settlement discussions were concluded.

Judge Meyer denied a motion from the trustee barring Mr Dunne from making any further filings. But he said the court would be "unlikely" to adjudicate on any of these or require the trustee to respond to them until such time as Mr Dunne complies with the court order to pay the bill. If Mr Dunne does not pay by January 1, the trustee can request the summary denial of the motion for a new trial.

Mr Dunne and Ms Killilea left Ireland following the financial crash and relocated to the US in 2010. He filed for bankruptcy in Connecticut in 2013 with debts of around €700m and was also adjudicated bankrupt in Ireland.

The bankruptcy process in both countries has been protracted. In Ireland, the High Court last year extended his bankruptcy by 12 years over "wilful and deliberate" failure to co-operate with the Official Assignee in Bankruptcy, including hiding or not disclosing information about certain assets.

Last month the Irish Independent revealed Ms Killilea had divorced Mr Dunne.

Recently Mr Dunne said he was now living in London and his sole source of income was just €200-a-month he receives for consultancy work for Amrakbo, a company Ms Killilea is involved in.

Mr Coan has accused Mr Dunne of creating the "illusion" he is impoverished.

Irish Independent

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