Anthony O’Reilly bankruptcy decision delayed by judge

Former billionaire is trying to have an insolvency case in Bahamas recognised in US

Anthony O’Reilly is attempting to have his bankruptcy case in the Bahamas recognised in US courts. File photograph: ©INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

Anthony O’Reilly is attempting to have his bankruptcy case in the Bahamas recognised in US courts. File photograph: ©INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

 

A US bankruptcy judge in Pittsburgh is delaying a decision on a second attempt by retired HJ Heinz chairman and CEO Sir Anthony O’Reilly to have his bankruptcy case in the Bahamas recognised in US courts.

The motion by the former billionaire is an effort to block his former personal nurse, Sabina Vidunas, from moving forward with her civil case against him that alleges he reneged on a promise to give her some $40 million (€35.82 million) worth of stock.

Her lawsuit, filed in federal court in Pittsburgh in 2013, has been on hold pending developments in the bankruptcy case, which Mr O’Reilly filed in 2015.

After hearing oral arguments on Tuesday, Judge Jeffery A Deller set a status conference in the matter for June 4th. Mr Justice Deller denied Mr O’Reilly’s first motion to have his case recognised in March.

In the meantime, the judge asked the parties to make another attempt at settling their differences outside of court.

“I’d like everyone to take another stab at mediation,” Mr Justice Deller said.

Ms Vidunas alleged in her complaint that her job description as Mr O’Reilly’s nurse eventually included duties that were “unsavoury” and “repugnant”, but that she performed them anyway because of the pay and benefits she was promised.

Once Ireland’s richest businessman and America’s highest-paid CEO, Mr O’Reilly filed for bankruptcy after accumulating massive debts through failed investments in publishing and Ireland’s Waterford Wedgwood luxury goods group.

Mr O’Reilly (83) has contended that he was unable to travel for depositions in Ms Vidunas’s case because of poor health.

In the courtroom on Tuesday, Ms Vidunas’s attorney presented evidence that Mr O’Reilly travelled from his home in France to Ireland in April 2018 for a gathering in his honour at the Old Belvedere Rugby Club in Dublin.

Also on Tuesday, Mr O’Reilly’s Pittsburgh-based lawyer, Robert E Dauer jnr, of Meyer, Unkovic and Scott, told the judge that the former rugby star had last travelled to the Bahamas in December.

Mr O’Reilly and Ms Vidunas also are battling in the Bahamas over a vacation home she owns in Lyford Cay.

Mr O’Reilly contends he lent her the money in 2005 to buy the home for $1.4 million and is seeking repayment.

Ms Vidunas contends the home was a gift to her and her husband from Mr O’Reilly in exchange for her services.