Dunne application to have bankruptcy dismissed challenged by creditors

Thursday 28 August 2014 09.00
Further arguments on the matter will be heard in September
Further arguments on the matter will be heard in September

Property developer Sean Dunne's efforts to have his US bankruptcy application dismissed have been challenged by his biggest creditors and a US court official.

Mr Dunne filed for bankruptcy in the United States last year, but is currently seeking to withdraw that bid to have his debts of €700m written off in a Connecticut court.

In this latest development, lawyers for NAMA and Ulster Bank, and the US bankruptcy trustee have objected to Mr Dunne's efforts to end the bankruptcy proceedings.

They say that dismissing the case was "not in the best interests'" of his creditors.

Proceedings had been moving slowly due to protracted arguments over the release of various documents, with the court-appointed trustee accusing Mr Dunne of deliberately delaying the handing over of evidence.

Last week, Mr Dunne's lawyer asked the court to dismiss the bankruptcy case, saying that the developer was financially unable to continue to fight the case, and had already been declared bankrupt in Ireland.

However, the bankruptcy court in Connecticut heard yesterday that his two biggest creditors, NAMA and Ulster Bank, would be seeking to block this, along with the court-appointed Bankruptcy Trustee Richard Coan.

In a legal document, Mr Dunne's lawyer James Berman said that dismissing Mr Dunne's bankruptcy proceedings would save everyone involved "needless expense" as they would no longer need two sets of lawyers in the US and in Ireland.

Although Mr Dunne applied for bankruptcy in the US in March 2013, he was subsequently declared bankrupt in Ireland in July of that year, following an action taken by Ulster Bank in the High Court.

The court also heard that Mr Coan is "strongly considering" taking further legal actions against Mr Dunne in an effort to recover tens of millions of euro which he has transferred to his wife Gayle Killilea.

Arguing the case in a court in Connecticut yesterday, Mr Coan's lawyer, Timothy Miltenberger, said that Mr Dunne had already admitted transferring more than €40m to his wife and said that he wished he could have transferred more.

Mr Miltenberger told Judge Alan Shiff that Mr Dunne had voluntarily filed for bankruptcy in the United States and owed hundreds of millions of euro to his creditors.

He said he was actively investigating the substantial transfers to Mr Dunne's wife, adding that "sometimes you walk into federal court you don't have the right to walk back out".

Judge Shiff will hear further arguments on the matter in September.

Keywords: dunne