Sean Dunne accused of ‘wild goose’ chase in US case

Court seeks to question Gayle Killilea in husband’s case

Seán  Dunne filed for bankruptcy in the US in March 2013 owing $942 million (€690 million). He was declared bankrupt in Ireland four months later in unprecedented parallel bankruptcies.

Seán Dunne filed for bankruptcy in the US in March 2013 owing $942 million (€690 million). He was declared bankrupt in Ireland four months later in unprecedented parallel bankruptcies.

Wed, May 21, 2014, 11:10


A US bankruptcy official has accused property developer Seán Dunne of trying to send him on “a wild goose chase” to obtain information and documents in an investigation of his finances.

Court-appointed trustee Richard Coan has asked the Connecticut bankruptcy court to order Mr Dunne to hand over more documents and to attend another meeting of creditors, the fifth of his 14-month US bankruptcy case. He also wants to question Mr Dunne’s wife Gayle Killilea about assets and cash the developer transferred to her.

In new court filings outlining fresh legal moves against the developer and his wife, Mr Coan has requested the court’s permission to question Ms Killilea at his offices in New Haven, Connecticut, on June 18th. It would be the first time she has been questioned in her husband’s US bankruptcy case.

Asking the court for a third time in less than a year to make an order compelling Mr Dunne to hand over information, the trustee said the developer has failed to produce any documents relating to Swiss family law proceedings taken by his wife that form the foundation of a transfer of €44 million to her.


Refused to testify
Mr Coan argues that Mr Dunne has refused to testify why his wife needed to take a lawsuit against him in Switzerland where they lived before moving to the US in 2010.

A lawyer for the trustee outlined Mr Coan’s concerns about Mr Dunne’s lack of co-operation to the US bankruptcy judge at a court hearing in Bridgeport, Connecticut, yesterday.

Timothy D Miltenberger, for the trustee, told Judge Alan Shiff it was unclear where Mr Dunne or Ms Killilea were living and this was one example of how the developer could co-operate better.

Mr Dunne filed for bankruptcy in the US in March 2013 owing $942 million (€690 million). He was declared bankrupt in Ireland four months later in unprecedented parallel bankruptcies.

In his filing to the court, Mr Coan said the developer’s co-operation is required under US bankruptcy law if he is to be entitled to a fresh start.

“[Mr Dunne] is simply stalling and buying time while his trustee attempts to unravel a cloak and dagger financial shell game that spans three continents and [at least] four different countries,” he said.

He accused the Co Carlow developer of “directly violating the court’s orders” and asked the court to hold him in contempt of two orders, in July and October 2013, for attempting to thwart disclosure.

Mr Coan listed six items that had not been disclosed, including a list of transfers in excess of $5,000 in the five years before he filed for bankruptcy and a statement concerning the March 2013 sale of Walford, which he bought in trust for his wife for €58 million in 2006.


Setback
In a setback for the developer, Mr Dunne failed in a bid to force his trustee to submit a court-ordered set of rules, or protocol, on how his dual bankruptcies in Ireland and the US would be managed.

The judge yesterday denied Mr Dunne’s request, saying that he did not get to have a say in how the trustee manages his bankruptcy. The trustee’s lawyer said he would file a protocol but needed more time.

A lawyer for Ms Killilea argued in support of Mr Dunne’s request, saying she had been subjected to wide-ranging requests for information and wanted to know her rights.