Sean Dunne bankruptcy official must share Walford documents

Court rules Yesreb should have access to papers as part of defence over transfer of property

Walford, the property on Shrewsbury Road once owned by members of Sean Dunne’s family, which is the subject of investgation by his bankruptcy trustee.

Walford, the property on Shrewsbury Road once owned by members of Sean Dunne’s family, which is the subject of investgation by his bankruptcy trustee.

 

A bankruptcy official pursuing dealings over a Dublin 4 house once bought by businessman Seán Dunne will have to allow a company to inspect some documents as part of its defence to High Court proceedings over the property, a judge ruled.

However, official assignee in bankruptcy Chris Lehane is entitled to maintain a claim of privilege over certain other documents among the 288 sought by Cypriot-registered Yesreb Holdings, Mr Justice Robert Haughton said.

Yesreb acquired the house called Walford on Shrewsbury Road in 2013 from a trust set up by Mr Dunne for his wife Gayle Killilea Dunne in 2005. It had been bought that year by Mr Dunne for a record €58 million.

In 2016, Yesreb sold it for €14.25 million to Celtic Trustees Ltd, which is the sole trustee of the Merdon Trust and whose settlor is financier Dermot Desmond.

‘Wilful and deliberate’

Mr Dunne was declared bankrupt here and in the United States in 2013 over debts of €164 million. His Irish bankruptcy was extended last October for 12 years over what a judge said was his “wilful and deliberate” failure to co-operate with Mr Lehane, who oversaw his estate.

Mr Lehane had already brought proceedings against Gayle Killilea Dunne over the alleged fraudulent transfer to her by her husband of a hotel called the Lagoon Beach in South Africa in an attempt to defeat creditors of Mr Dunne.

Mr Lehane says it was not until 2016 that he was in a position to prove Mr Dunne also had an involvement with Yesreb, and that Walford must therefore still have had a connection to the family.

The Dunnes initially denied having any connection with Yesreb but later asserted it had been owned by Seán Dunne’s son John, having been gifted to him by Ms Killilea Dunne.

The official assignee argued a “cloak” was thrown over the Walford transactions and that he (Mr Lehane) was given misinformation, which the Dunnes strongly denied.

Separate action

Mr Lehane is now also bringing proceedings against Yesreb, with Celtic Trustees as notice party, in relation to the sale of the property. Celtic Trustees has brought its own separate action against Mr Lehane claiming, among other things, breach of privacy over the alleged leaking of confidential material to a newspaper concerning an agreement to buy Walford.

The cases are being managed by Mr Justice Haughton who on Tuesday ruled that Yesreb, in order to properly defend the action against it, was entitled to inspect certain categories of documents over which the official assignee asserts privilege but not over others.

The judge said a claim of litigation privilege over documents that came into being earlier than mid-to-late 2016 was not made out. Yesreb was entitled to inspect those documents.

The judge accepted Mr Lehane’s submission that different considerations applied to documents created at the time, shortly before, and after, the date he (Lehane) took his further proceedings.

He was also entitled to maintain privilege over certain internal notes/documents.