Dunne held 20 properties in trust for his children

Bankrupt developer questioned for more than three hours at creditors’ meeting in US

Seán Dunne bought more than 20 properties for his three adult children over the years but held the assets in trust until they turned 18, he said. Photograph: Ronan Quinlan/Collins

Seán Dunne bought more than 20 properties for his three adult children over the years but held the assets in trust until they turned 18, he said. Photograph: Ronan Quinlan/Collins

Fri, Dec 13, 2013, 01:00


Bankrupt developer Seán Dunne bought more than 20 properties for his three adult children over the years but held the assets in trust until they turned 18, he told a creditors’ meeting in the US.

Facing questions from the trustee overseeing his US bankruptcy and his biggest creditors, the National Asset Management Agency and Ulster Bank, Mr Dunne said the properties were “houses, apartments, sites” and held in trust until 2004 when the youngest son from his first marriage turned 18.

The Co Carlow developer was questioned at a meeting lasting more than three hours about his financial dealings.

Nama has claimed that Mr Dunne fraudulently transferred assets to his wife, Gayle Killilea, and that the developer is the principal behind multimillion euro property deals, and not his wife, as he claims.

He said he worked for Mountbrook USA, a property firm owned by Ms Killilea, and was its only employee. He has been paid $100,000 by the firm this year, including $60,000 this week, he said.

He was asked repeatedly about a house at the K Club in Co Kildare held for his adult children through an Isle of Man company, Traviata, which was recently at the centre of Irish High Court proceedings.

Mr Dunne said he set up Traviata but he didn’t know who held the “bearer shares” – shares that grant the holder ownership of the company.

The developer said he arranged to have the house cleaned and the grass cut at the property and that he stayed at the house for a number of days on three visits to Ireland this year.

Mr Dunne he transferred his interest in another site at the K Club to his 26-year-old son John who was building a property there.

He had a “minor involvement” in the construction of the house, giving his son advice, and Ms Killilea, a former newspaper columnist, was partly funding it, while one of her companies was building it.

Earlier, Mr Dunne refused to answer questions about a judgment in family law proceedings in Switzerland in 2010, which he told the meeting involved him and Ms Killilea.

Asked whether a debt of $44 million (€33 million) listed in his US bankruptcy filings due to “Creditor A”, whom he revealed as Ms Killilea, arose from the Swiss judgment, Mr Dunne said: “It would be.”

Mr Dunne’s lawyers objected to questions from Nama’s lawyer on whether that case related to separation or divorce proceedings with his current wife.

His bankruptcy trustee, Richard Coan, said that it was a “little absurd” that he could file for bankruptcy, list a claim for $44 million and then refused to answer questions about that claim.

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