Seán Dunne’s bankruptcy trustee to seek Irish court documents

Connecticut judge tells developer there are limits to what he can do in bankruptcy

 Seán Dunne leaving court on Monday in Bridgeport Connecticut. Photograph: Simon Carswell / The Irish Times

Seán Dunne leaving court on Monday in Bridgeport Connecticut. Photograph: Simon Carswell / The Irish Times

Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 01:01

The court-appointed trustee overseeing the US bankruptcy of property developer Sean Dunne intends to ask the American court’s permission to seek access to family law documents in Ireland.

Timothy Miltenberger, lawyer for Mr Dunne’s trustee Rich Coan, told the Connecticut bankruptcy court yesterday that he intended to apply under US bankruptcy law to obtain information about the Co Carlow developer’s finances under confidentiality conditions.

Mr Coan has claimed in court filings that Mr Dunne has obstructed his investigation of the developer’s finances and the transfer of more than €100 million in assets and property by the developer to his wife Gayle Killilea Dunne - whom he described as “his wife or (ex-wife)” - since 2004 for “no or nominal consideration.”

Judge Alan Shiff said that he didn’t know whether Mrs Killilea Dunne “stands on her own feet as a creditor” in this case.

He ordered Mr Dunne’s lawyer to produce documents under Irish law proving his claim that the Irish in-camera rule prevents him from handing over information about his finances to the bankruptcy trustee.

“If you are relying on Irish law, you’ve got to identify the Irish law so they can read it and see how it applies,” Judge Shiff told his lawyer.

The judge noted during the hearing that a Chapter 7 bankruptcy limits a debtor like Mr Dunne on what he can do and that he could apply for a new trustee but that he “has a statutory duty to do things.”

Mr Dunne’s lawyer James Berman said that there was a “great big factual thing that is going on out there” that has “not been put fairly before this court” and that it needed to be disclosed.

The developer filed for bankruptcy in Connecticut in March 2013 with debts of $942 million (€690 million) and was made bankrupt in Ireland four months later in unprecedented parallel bankruptcies on a petition by Ulster Bank, a €164 million creditor.

Mr Dunne, who attended court yesterday, is objecting to an order sought by his trustee forcing him to hand over information on all transfers over $5,000, claiming that it was “not possible” and further evidence of “efforts to harass, blacken and burden [HIM].”

Mrs Killilea Dunne wants the court to order the trustee to follow procedures giving her notice of any information that he is seeking about her or her children from third parties to protect their privacy.

The judge will hear from all parties on July 9th to decide whether there should be a hearing with witnesses on disclosures of information after Mr Dunne made a request for a hearing based on evidence.

He gave both sides deadlines between now and the end of June to file their arguments and responses in preparation for that hearing.