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Wednesday 13 November 2019

Killilea accused of 'oppressing' NAMA's chief

Lawyers trying to prevent McDonagh being called as witness in dispute over US properties


GLAMOROUS property developer Gayle Killilea-Dunne is facing claims of harassing and oppressing NAMA chief executive Brendan McDonagh by calling him and other senior executives as witnesses in her US court battle with the State property agency.

Lawyers for the National Asset Management Agency are pursuing her and her husband, Sean Dunne, through the courts of the United States claiming that Ms Killilea-Dunne has acquired millions of dollars worth of properties in the exclusive town of Greenwich, Connecticut, using money provided by her husband.

Documents submitted to the courts in Stamford, Connecticut, on November 21 reveal just how bitter the dispute between the parties has become as Ms Killilea-Dunne seeks to defend her reputation and her personal fortune.

The dispute took yet another dramatic turn on Friday evening, with lawyers for Sean Dunne filing a motion to dismiss NAMA's case against him altogether, claiming that the courts of Connecticut had no jurisdiction in the matter.

On the same day, lawyers for Ms Killilea-Dunne filed an objection to NAMA's request for a protective order which, if successful, would prevent her from calling Mr McDonagh, NAMA senior asset manager Kevin Nowlan and asset recovery manager John Coleman to give evidence in the case the agency is taking against her.

The NAMA lawyers say it is necessary to protect its subsidiary NALM (National Asset Loan Management) from what they describe as "undue burden, oppression and harassment" that had arisen as a result of Ms Killilea-Dunne's "timing, tactics and refusal to co-operate" with the agency's requests for information from her and her counsel.

Defending NAMA's request to keep its CEO from giving evidence in the case, the agency's US lawyers insist that as NAMA's highest-ranking officer, he has no "personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances of the verified complaint" against Ms Killilea-Dunne and her husband.

Referring specifically to Ms Killilea-Dunne's demand that Mr McDonagh should be called as a witness, NAMA's attorneys are arguing against it on the grounds that it is designed for the "sole purpose of annoying, oppressing and embarrassing NAMA as owner of NALM, and its CEO".

Commenting on Ms Killilea-Dunne's refusal to comply with orders for discovery sought by NALM based on her and her attorney's belief that the agency had not made out a prima facie case against her, NAMA's attorneys claim the journalist-turned-property developer has been engaged in attempts "to harass NAMA's highest ranking officer and its managers".

They claim: "She seeks to annoy, harass, burden, oppress and embarrass Mr McDonagh by establishing that he is not familiar with factual support for the allegations in the complaint verified by Mr Coleman, and then publicising that circumstance through the Irish press. This court should not permit Ms Killilea to waste Mr McDonagh's time to advance her agenda."

Newspaper coverage of the Dunnes' financial affairs has played a significant role in the case now being taken by NAMA. Indeed, at an earlier court hearing last July in which NAMA sought unsuccessfully to have a freezing order applied to the Dunnes' assets, Judge Douglas Mintz was highly critical of the agency's lawyers for trying to press their case on the grounds of their "information and belief" and for submitting newspaper articles in support of their argument.

Also filed in the court on November 21 was a 39-page questionnaire directed to-wards Mr Dunne looking for details of all his assets over €5,000 from January 1, 2004, and details of his net worth at the beginning of each year from 2004 to the present.

They are also seeking details of all asset transfers conducted under the agreements drawn up between Mr Dunne and Ms Killilea-Dunne in 2005 and 2008.

Sunday Independent

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