Seán Dunne failed to disclose tens of millions in transferred assets, court hears
Bankrupt developer claims transfers to former wife Gayle Killilea made out of ‘love’
Seán Dunne: moved to Greenwich, Connecticut, one of America’s wealthiest communities, after his property empire collapsed, and filed for bankruptcy there in 2013. Photograph: Collins Courts
Onetime property magnate Seán Dunne failed to disclose millions of euro in asset transfers to his wife and family members in a 2010 sworn statement provided to the National Asset Management Agency, according to documents and testimony at his US civil trial on Tuesday.
On the second day of the hearing, Thomas Curran, for Mr Dunne’s US bankruptcy trustee Richard Coan, methodically walked Nama chief legal officer Alan Stewart through a “statement of affairs” Mr Dunne filed with the agency in December 2010. In it, Mr Dunne acknowledged transfer of just five assets to relatives over the previous five years.
Mr Curran asked Mr Stewart if Mr Dunne’s disclosures included giving his wife, Gayle Killilea, or family members a long list of other valuable properties and assets, including a Swiss condominium, cash from Credit Suisse Bank accounts, South African assets, interest in his new American company and Walford, a Dublin home Dunne purchased in 2005 for €58 million. In each instance, Stewart answered: “No.”
Ms Killilea and Mr Dunne’s three adult children from his previous marriage declined to provide similar statements of affairs to Nama, which is charged with cleaning up the financial mess left by the financial crash, according to documents entered into evidence.
Asset transfers to Ms Killilea and others rest at the centre of the case being heard by a jury at US district court in New Haven, Connecticut. Mr Dunne moved to Greenwich, Connecticut, one of America’s wealthiest communities, after his property empire collapsed, and filed for bankruptcy there in 2013.
Mr Coan is suing Mr Dunne to recover what he alleges were tens of millions of dollars in improper wealth transfers to family members and to distribute the proceeds to Mr Dunne’s creditors.
In opening statements on Monday, lawyers for Mr Dunne and Ms Killilea argued the transfers were made out of love and a wish to provide financial security, not to shield assets from creditors. They said that Mr Dunne was solvent at the time he made the wealth transfers.
On the December 2010 Nama disclosure form, Mr Dunne listed three assets given to Ms Killilea, one to his son Steven Dunne and one to a party whose identity is blocked by an Irish court. They ranged from a Dublin site worth €2.7 million to €635 in stock, both to Ms Killilea. Mr Dunne was required to make the disclosure after he began working with Nama to try to pay off his mountainous debts and keep his businesses afloat.
Minutes from a November 2010 meeting with Nama officials entered to evidence showed Mr Dunne angry about an Irish news report that he had purchased a home in the exclusive Belle Haven section of Greenwich, and moved to the United States. He denied having moved to America and told officials his domicile remained Ireland.
Earlier in the day, Mr Curran introduced into evidence numerous documents from 2006 to 2010 showing that Mr Dunne was failing to repay Irish banks tens of millions of euro in loans. Many of those debts ended up with Nama, Mr Stewart testified. In total, Nama holds €333 million of Dunne’s €428 million in unpaid obligations, the Nama executive testified earlier.
Under cross-examination late Monday by Ms Killilea’s lawyer Peter Nolin, Mr Coan said that his law firm would earn more than $900,000 in commission if his suit is successful. His firm has made nearly $2 million in fees so far from the long-running, complicated case, Mr Coan confirmed.