Seán Dunne tells court injunction proceedings are ‘a fraud’

Developer’s children seeking to prevent him from selling properties in Kildare

Seán Dunne said the proceedings had “no legal basis” are “unstateable” and that the injunction was only granted because of the “Seán Dunne factor”. Photograph: Douglas Healey

Seán Dunne said the proceedings had “no legal basis” are “unstateable” and that the injunction was only granted because of the “Seán Dunne factor”. Photograph: Douglas Healey

 

Bankrupt businessman Seán Dunne has told the High Court that injunction proceedings brought against him over two properties in Co Kildare are “a fraud”.

Last week the court granted children of the bankrupt businessman a temporary injunction preventing him from selling or dissipating the proceeds of sale of two valuable properties located at 9A and 19 Churchfields, Straffan, Co Kildare located near the K Club resort.

They claim that the properties were assigned to or put in trust for Mr Dunne’s children. However, they allege their father is attempting to sell the properties for the bankrupt developer’s own benefit.

When the matter returned before Thursday’s vacation sitting of the court, Mr Dunne told Ms Justice Bronagh O’ Hanlon via video link that he intends to seek to have the injunction vacated.

Representing himself, Mr Dunne, who now resides in Ascot in England, said the injunction was both a fraud against him, and the court. The assets at the centre of the dispute were not his, and belonged to an Isle of Man-based trust.

He said the proceedings had “no legal basis” are “unstateable” and that the injunction was only granted because of the “Seán Dunne factor.”

He said he would be setting out his full response to the claims in a sworn statement that will be prepared over the next week.

The injunction was sought by John Dunne, the businessman’s son from his first marriage, along with Seán Dunne’s four sons, who are all minors, with Gayle Killilea, who is Sean Dunne’s second and now former wife.

The four minors are suing through Ms Killilea. Amrabko unlimited Company, a firm of which Ms Killilea is a director, that has to date spent €577,000 on a house being built at one of the properties, is also an applicant in the proceedings.

Restrains

The injunction restrains Traviata Ltd, Seán Dunne and Bessilton Holdings Ltd from selling or disposing of the legal and beneficial interests in properties.

The order also prevents the defendants from dealing with the proceeds of the sale of one of the properties.

The court heard that Traviata is an Isle of Man-registered company, fully owned by the SD trust. Seán Dunne is the settlor of the trust which is allegedly for the benefit Mr Dunne’s children.

On Thursday Mr Dunne said that the assets belong to Traviata, which is owned by a trust that is run by trustees that are independent of him.

Martin Hayden SC who appeared as a courtesy to the court for Traviata, said his client is an Isle of Man-based trust, independent of Mr Dunne, said that it may contest the jurisdiction of the Irish High Court to make any orders against it.

The trustees are carrying out their duty under Isle of Man law and agreed that it was completely independent of Seán Dunne, counsel added.

The third defendant, Bessilton, is the alleged registered and legal owner of the two properties, but is not the beneficial owner.

Bessilton’s lawyers claim that the dispute involves other parties and it will abide by any orders made by the court.

On Thursday Ross Gorman BL, instructed by solicitor Graham Kenny, for the plaintiffs said that his clients are happy for the case to be adjourned with the injunction remaining in place.

Counsel said his clients wanted to know what had happened to the proceeds of the sale of one of the properties, and asked the judge to direct Traviata and Seán Dunne to state in their replying statements where those monies have gone.

Ms Justice O’Hanlon agreed to adjourn the matter, with the orders remaining in place.

She also directed that any replying statements by Mr Dunne and Traviata include any details they have about the proceedings of the sale.

Previously the court heard that the properties were the subject of the settlement of a legal dispute between Seán Dunne and Bessilton in 2004.

Transferred

One of the properties was to be transferred to John Dunne. Works have been carried out on that site by Amrabko, which had expended considerable amount of cash on the project.

When completed the property was to be sold, and Amrabko would be paid from the proceeds of that sale, it is claimed.

The second site was held in the name of Traviata for the benefit of the children from both of Seán Dunne’s marriages, the plaintiffs claim.

In recent weeks the Dunne children claim they became aware that the properties had been put up for sale, in an allegedly secret manner.

One of the two properties was sold for €1 million, which it is alleged amounts to a gross undervalue of the property.

The plaintiffs believe that the properties are not being sold for the beneficiaries, but rather for the benefit of Seán Dunne.

In his submissions to the court Mr Gorman said that Seán Dunne had been described by a High Court judge in a judgement in bankruptcy proceedings as being “deeply dishonest”.

As Seán Dunne is a bankrupt the Official Assignee in Bankruptcy was made a notice party to the application. It is reserving its position regarding the action.

The case will return before the court in June.