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Developer Sean Dunne quits debt fight in US

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Sean Dunne

Sean Dunne

Sean Dunne

NAMA may soon recoup some of the €276m owed to it by bust developer Sean Dunne after he abandoned his fight to walk away from debts in the US.

Mr Dunne surprised everyone by waiving his right to be discharged from his debt as part of his ongoing bankruptcy proceedings.

He had spent the past 20 months battling to be given a clean slate.

It means creditors will be able to stake a claim to his future earnings and Mr Dunne will be denied a fresh financial start. The Carlow-born businessman has total debts of €695m.

A lawyer for Mr Dunne, James Berman, made the surprise announcement at a hearing in Connecticut, where Mr Dunne has lived since 2010.

"Mr Dunne has elected to waive his discharge," Mr Berhman told Judge Alan Shiff at the US Bankruptcy Court in Bridgeport, after requesting to make an opening statement.

Lawyers for NAMA asked the court for a written confirmation of the decision and the judge gave Mr Dunne's lawyers until Friday to file papers.

Judge Shiff assured Thomas Curran, a lawyer for NAMA: "It's done now. It's on the record."

NAMA has opposed Mr Dunne's discharge, claiming he gave the bankruptcy court false information about the extent of his assets.

The agency also claims he concealed his interest in transferred assets.

Mr Dunne has also faced claims from bankruptcy trustee Richard Coan that he transferred tens of millions of euro in assets to his wife, former gossip columnist Gayle Killilea, for "no or nominal consideration".

Battling

For almost two years now, Dunne was battling to be allowed to begin a fresh start.

But by waiving his discharge, Mr Dunne has guaranteed he will be at the mercy of his creditors and will lose all protections available to him under US bankruptcy legislation.

He has already been adjudicated a bankrupt here under a unique dual bankruptcy process.

As a result of yesterday's move, the 60-year-old will no longer face a bankruptcy trial in the US.

His case will proceed under the court appointed trustee, Mr Coan, who has control of Mr Dunne's assets.

Mr Coan's investigations into financial affairs are ongoing.

As a result of his decision to waive a discharge, all of Mr Dunne's assets acquired since filing for bankruptcy in March 2013 and any future earnings are now fair game for creditors.

Mr Dunne will also be left with a hefty legal bill from the adversarial proceedings, brought by NAMA. In the US, each side pays its own fees.

The former 'Baron of Ballsbridge' is facing an unprecedented dual bankruptcy.

He voluntarily applied to be discharged from his debt in the US last March.

He was adjudicated bankrupt later in the High Court after an application from creditor Ulster Bank.

hnews@herald.ie


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