High Court rules steps can be taken to realise Dunne’s assets
Request to direct that assurances be given that developer won’t be arrested also refused
Mr Justice Brian McGovern today refused bankrupt developer Sean Dunne’s request to direct the Official Assignee to provide assurances Mr Dunne would not be arrested here as an absconding bankrupt in the High Court. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
Bankrupt developer Sean Dunne is appealing the High Court’s refusal to set aside his Irish bankruptcy but today failed to get court orders preventing continuing steps here to realise his assets for his creditors, including Nama.
Mr Justice Brian McGovern also refused Mr Dunne’s request to direct the Official Assignee to provide assurances Mr Dunne would not be arrested here as an absconding bankrupt but noted the Assignee cannot procure any arrest without a court order and regarded any such step as “a last resort”.
In refusing to restrain the Assignee concerning any such application, the judge said he understood the Assignee’s concern that Mr Dunne should not be allowed “set the agenda” in relation to how his bankruptcy is administered here.
The Assignee, Chris Lehane, had complained Mr Dunne is “ignoring” his Irish bankruptcy and has not attended for interview with Mr Lehane or provided a statement of affairs. Mr Dunne had argued he was awaiting the outcome of his legal challenge to his Irish bankruptcy and his lawyers indicated today he would provide materials sought.
Earlier today, the judge refused a stay on Mr Lehane taking further steps to realise Mr Dunne’s estate pending the businessman’s Supreme Court appeal against the judge’s refusal last week to set aside Mr Dunne’s Irish bankruptcy.
The Irish bankruptcy was initiated by Ulster Bank in February over default on loans for some €161 million issued to buy properties in Dublin. Mr Dunne filed for bankruptcy in the US the following month when he claimed to have debts of $1 billion (€720 million) and assets of $55 million.
Following a later application by Ulster Bank, the US court appointed trustee managing Mr Dunne’s US bankruptcy ruled parallel proceedings would benefit Mr Dunne’s creditors as the vast majority of his properties are in Ireland.
Arising from the refusal to set aside the Irish bankruptcy, Bill Shipsey SC, for Mr Dunne, today sought a stay, which would effectively restrain further steps in the Irish bankruptcy, pending the Supreme Court appeal.
Mr Shipsey argued there would be no prejudice to creditors from such a stay because most of Mr Dunne’s assets here are subject to receiverships and his former family home at Shrewsbury Road was rented to the South African embassy and was also subject to a charge to Bank of Scotland.
Mr Dunne had an apprehension a view could be taken he would be seen as an asbconding bankrupt and provisions of the Bankruptcy Act allowing for arrest of an absconding bankruypt could be used against him when he came here to visit his mother and daughter, counsel said. In those circumstances, he wanted an undertaking from the Assignee there would be no move to arrest him.