Dunne says he did not visit €58m Dublin house before buying

Developer tells bankruptcy official he viewed Shrewsbury Road house from outside

In an archive video from 2011, Frank McDonald visited Walford, on Shrewsbury Road in Dublin. Video Éanna Ó Caollaí

 

The bankrupt property developer Seán Dunne has told the official overseeing his bankruptcy that he and his wife, Gayle Killilea, did not visit a Dublin house before buying it for €58 million in 2005.

The purchase of Walford, on Shrewsbury Road, caused a sensation at the time because it was believed to have been the highest price ever paid for a Dublin home.

“We were living on Shrewsbury Road,” he said. “We didn’t physically inspect the property because we didn’t want anyone to know we were looking at it. We were able to walk around to Old Belvedere to [look] in at it. We were able to get aerial photographs. So we looked at the property up and down.”

The comments were made in a day-long interview with Mr Dunne, in the offices of the official assignee, Chris Lehane, in June of this year. It was the first interview given by Mr Dunne to Mr Lehane, even though Mr Dunne was declared a bankrupt here in July 2013. He is also a bankrupt in the United States.

Co-operation concerns

The transcript of the interview is now publicly available as part of court papers. In the course of the interview, Mr Lehane made it clear that, contrary to assertions by Mr Dunne, his US trustee was not at all happy with the level of co-operation he was getting from Mr Dunne, and that Mr Lehane also had concerns.

The process of questioning Mr Dunne in the US had been “the most elongated one that they had over there,” Mr Lehane said. “They were burying themselves into a wall.”

If Mr Dunne had been in a court, Mr Lehane said, he would have been told to answer the question.

Mr Dunne said he had been a very active property developer at the time he had agreed to give a substantial part of his wealth to his wife, in 2005. He had sold assets worth several hundred million euro, and had bought assets of a similar value, in the years 2005 to 2007.

Mr Lehane said he was still not accepting that the document setting out the agreement with Ms Killilea had been drafted at the time Dunne said it had been, and found it “mind-boggling” that it had been drafted without the aid of lawyers. The agreement had led to transfers of about €62 million in the period to 2008.

Mr Dunne said he spends about $10,000 a year on personal items and has not bought any property over recent years. He said he had, over the past three years, visited Ireland about three times a year, and England about six to eight times a year. He claimed that the National Asset Management Agency had planted stories about him and his family in the newspapers.

The interview transcript is an exhibit with an affidavit filed recently by Mr Dunne in a case where he is contesting Mr Lehane’s application that his bankruptcy, which should have ended in July, be extended on the basis of non-co-operation.

In the course of the interview, it was explained to Mr Dunne that his dealings with the official assignee were confidential, save where they became part of a court process.