Friday 23 February 2018

Transfers to Gayle may be probed after bankruptcy ruling

Sean and Gayle Dunne
Sean and Gayle Dunne
Sean Dunne

Tim Healy and Dearbhail McDonald

ALL property and cash transactions involving bust developer Sean Dunne in the past five years may be examined after he was declared bankrupt at the High Court in Dublin.

A court-appointed official can probe claims he transferred assets to his wife, former social columnist Gayle Killilea.

Ulster Bank, supported by NAMA, had applied to the court for the developer to be adjudicated bankrupt on foot of a €163m judgment secured against him over unpaid loans.

The adjudication means that all property transactions in the past five years will be subject to examination by the Official Assignee, the court official in charge of Mr Dunne's bankruptcy, or by a trustee if NAMA or Ulster Bank seek to have one appointed over his assets.

Enabling legislation to give effect to Ireland's new insolvency regime has not yet been signed into law.

LAWS

But Mr Dunne could emerge from bankruptcy in 2016 as he, like other bankrupts, will benefit from the new laws once they are fully operational.

In an attempt to stop proceedings going ahead in Ireland, Mr Dunne filed for bankruptcy in the US three months ago.

Last month, the American court-appointed trustee managing his US bankruptcy supported an application by Ulster Bank to have him adjudicated bankrupt in parallel proceedings in Ireland.

It came after a judge in the US last week ruled bankruptcy proceedings in Ireland could go ahead.

Ulster Bank then applied to the bankruptcy court in Connecticut asking that it be allowed to serve papers on Mr Dunne so as to continue proceedings in Ireland.

Judge Alan Shiff in the US ruled in favour of Ulster Bank. Mr Dunne also lost his appeal.

Judge Shiff said bankruptcy proceedings in Ireland began six weeks before Mr Dunne filed for protection in the US and most of Mr Dunne's assets were in Ireland, as were most of his creditors.

The name of the Co Carlow man was called out twice before Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne heard the bankruptcy petition. Mr Dunne did not make an appearance and he was not represented during the hearing.

Making the order to adjudicate Mr Dunne bankrupt, Ms Justice Dunne said the history of the case was complicated with Mr Dunne bringing proceedings in the US.

The court-appointed official now dealing with Mr Dunne's bankruptcy, the Official Assignee, will now liaise with the US authorities over what is to happen with his assets.

Earlier, the court heard a US State Marshall in Connecticut has served the Irish bankruptcy papers on the Dunne household, as well as the offices of Mr Dunne's US attorney.

The marshall had met Mr Dunne's wife, Ms Killilea, at a residential address in Connecticut but she refused to accept the papers.

The marshall described the woman as "a blonde lady with an Irish accent" who said she was Mrs Dunne.

She said her husband was away for a few weeks and drove away in an SUV.

Ms Justice Dunne was told notice of the petition was then pinned to the door of the Dunne home by the marshall.

Irish Independent

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