US ruling sought to recover Seán Dunne’s assets

Bankruptcy official seeks court decree allowing him to recover assets for creditors

The official overseeing Seán Dunne’s American bankruptcy has asked a US court to make a ruling that would allow him and the developer’s Irish bankruptcy official recover assets for creditors.

Mr Dunne's wife, Gayle Killilea Dunne, is seeking to halt the seizure of assets, saying that the pursuit by Irish official assignee Chris Lehane, who is in charge of his Irish bankruptcy, violates the "automatic stay" that protects debtors under US bankruptcy law from their creditors.

In a court filing in a Connecticut court, Mr Dunne's US trustee Rich Coan said Ms Killilea Dunne has "no standing whatsoever in this case" and that the automatic stay was no longer in effect because Mr Dunne had waived his right to a bankruptcy discharge writing off his debts.

Mr Coan asked Connecticut’s bankruptcy court on Thursday for an order confirming that the automatic stay that protected Mr Dunne had ended or was not applicable any more, or alternatively, modifying the automatic stay to permit the officials pursue the recovery of assets.

On Thursday he also requested a fast-track hearing by the US court on the matter, because, he said, the issue comes before the Irish High Court again on Tuesday and that issues related to the automatic stay could be presented to the South African courts as early as yesterday.

The request is the latest move in the complex and long-running legal battle between the couple and Mr Dunne's Irish and US bankruptcy officials over assets held in Ireland, the US and South Africa.

The Co Carlow developer, who is now living on the US east coast, filed for bankruptcy in Connecticut in 2013, declaring debts of about €700 million at the time, including hundreds of millions of euro due to the State's National Asset Management Agency.

Adjudicated bankrupt

He was adjudicated a bankrupt in Ireland four months later on an application by Ulster Bank in its pursuit of a debt of €164 million.

Parallel bankruptcy proceedings, in Ireland and the US, have over the past two years been mired in legal rows over whether the court-appointed officials can recover debts and seek information.

Mr Coan said he supported Mr Lehane’s actions to recover assets and obtain information because he was working on behalf of all creditors and because Mr Dunne has significant personal property in Ireland.