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Ulster Bank battles to serve Dunne's bankruptcy papers

ULSTER Bank is in a race against time to have developer Sean Dunne named a bankrupt in Ireland.

The former 'Baron of Ballsbridge' has already filed for bankruptcy in the US, where he has been living since 2010.

However, the High Court has heard that Ulster Bank wants to serve Irish bankruptcy proceedings on Mr Dunne. The bank alleges it is owed €164m arising out of guarantees he executed on the redevelopment of the Jurys Hotel site.

The developer filed for bankruptcy in Connecticut at the end of March, estimating his debts at more than $500m (€384m). He owes €185m to NAMA.

A meeting of Mr Dunne's creditors is due to take place on May 8 in New Haven, Connecticut, and they have until July 8 to object to his discharge.

Bankrupts can be discharged from their debts in as little as four months in the US if their application is not contested.

Lawyers for Ulster Bank yesterday sought permission from the High Court to use various means to serve its Irish bankruptcy proceedings on Mr Dunne. The proceedings would normally be served on Mr Dunne in person, but the bank sought an order allowing it to use other means.

Under such a "substituted service" order, the bank can seek to notify him of the case by ordinary post at an address in this jurisdiction or in the US, or by email.

The bank previously obtained High Court permission to personally serve him in the US during the course of separate court proceedings against him in Connecticut, but it is believed there have been difficulties in doing so.

The court also heard previously that it is the bank's view that Mr Dunne still carries on business here, acts as a landlord, and his family lives here.

Yesterday, senior counsel for the bank, Lyndon MacCann, said the court may have seen from newspaper reports that Mr Dunne has filed for bankruptcy in the US.

Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said there might be an issue as to Mr Dunne's status as resident in the US. But Mr MacCann said the developer was only living in the US on a temporary visa.

He added that the court would have to deal with how the two bankruptcy regimes operate, but this was an issue that could be dealt with at a later date.

The judge agreed to adjourn the application for substituted service for a week, and said she would give a new return date for the bankruptcy application to May 30.

Mr Dunne has said he hopes to be "debt free with a clean slate" within the next three years after filing for bankruptcy in the US.

Irish Independent