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Dunne surprise move to halt US bankruptcy bid

BROKE builder Sean Dunne has made a surprise application to halt his bankruptcy petition in the United States.

Mr Dunne is seeking to withdraw his bid for bankruptcy protection in a Connecticut Court, claiming he doesn't have the resources to oppose NAMA's attempt to prevent him being discharged from his debts.

The one-time 'Baron of Ballsbridge' filed for bankruptcy in the US last year declaring debts of almost $1bn.

He moved Stateside with his family in 2010 after the collapse of his property empire in Ireland.

Mr Dunne was also declared bankrupt here after one of his major creditors, Ulster Bank, brought court proceedings.

He now wants his US bankruptcy case dismissed, claiming that even if he wins, his creditors could seek to "undermine the discharge" because of the Irish case.

investigations

Dunne's move comes after NAMA, which is pursuing loans of €185m, considerably ramped up its investigation of his affairs in recent months.

The agency has made a series of damaging allegations about his conduct, claiming he has failed to provide it with details of bank accounts, emails, and other key information he is required to disclose.

The toxic loans agency alleges Dunne transferred millions of euro to his wife, socialite turned property developer Gayle Killilea, in the years before going bust, putting assets beyond the reach of creditors.

It also claims he "knowingly and fraudulently" gave misleading information when filing for bankruptcy and during creditor meetings.

The accusations have been denied by Dunne, who has accused NAMA of going on a fishing expedition.

A court in Connecticut will now have to decide whether to dismiss the case.

It is not yet clear whether NAMA or other creditors will press for the trial to go ahead or be satisfied with an Irish bankruptcy.

In a court filing, Dunne's lawyer James Berman, said his client did "not have the resources" to defend NAMA's objection to him walking away debt free.

He also said Dunne "cannot be assured" there would be no efforts "in Ireland or by Irish creditors to undermine the discharge as a result of the Irish bankruptcy proceeding".

Mr Berman said Dunne "would incur expenses he cannot afford for a victory that would provide uncertain benefit or, indeed, no benefit at all" if he was to push ahead with his bid for bankruptcy protection in the US.

Separately, NAMA and Ms Killilea are to seek the appointment of a "neutral third party" to decide what information she is required to provide the agency about her financial dealings.

Although Ms Killilea is not a NAMA debtor, the agency wants her to surrender financial information about her property development activities in the US.

creditor

Ms Killilea is unwilling to divulge information which does not relate directly to her husband, who has been acting as her employee.

NAMA claims that because Ms Killilea, a former newspaper gossip columnist, received considerable sums of money from Dunne between 2005 and 2008 that virtually all of her ongoing business "constitute assets and activities" of her husband's estate.

Ms Killilea has been involved in several multi-million euro property deals in New York and Connecticut in recent years.

Meanwhile, Bank of Scotland was last night granted permission by a US court to seize control of Ouragh, Dunne's €4m home on Shrewsbury Road.

hnews@herald.ie


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