Bankrupt ‘poster boy’ and ‘ace of spades’ Dunne claims persecution by creditors

‘Unlike Jesus’, former developer expects to need three years to resurrect his fortunes


He is the former “Baron of Ballsbridge” turned “debtor number 39” on Nama’s books. However, in an article in the Sunday Independent today, Seán Dunne, the property developer who has filed for bankruptcy in the US, also compares himself to Jesus, Saddam Hussein and a golfer halfway through his 18 holes on the “fairways of life”.

Good Friday was “an appropriate day” to file for bankruptcy, Dunne explains, because his two main creditors – the State assets agency and Ulster Bank – have been engaged in a “game of persecution” against him.

“At least now, I have the pain of certainty rather than the uncertainty of pain,” he writes.

Dunne concedes he is not expecting an immediate resurrection in his fortunes, but hints that he may yet attempt to rise again.

“Unlike Jesus, I don’t expect to rise again in three days, but certainly hope to make great strides within the next three years, debt-free, with a clean slate and my fate back in my own hands.”

He says there is “no commercial logic” to the actions of Nama and Ulster Bank and claims the “infliction of pain” was their priority.

“Both of these banks have me on a wanted list and, like the Americans in Iraq, Seán Dunne is the ace of spades,” Dunne writes.

During the Iraq war, US authorities kept a most-wanted list of Iraqi leaders it wanted to kill or capture in the form of a deck of cards. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, executed in 2006, was the “ace of spades”.

Dunne says he had been “reasonably confident” at first that he could work with Nama, but the relationship soon soured when Nama decided to put him into receivership and “to pursue non-debtor members of my family” in a bid to “rape their finances in an effort to pay off my debts”.

Nama’s actions against him amount to “vexatious litigation” and is “a disgrace”, Dunne adds. “I thank the Lord every day that I never have to sit in the same room with any of them again – unless it has to be a court room.”

His creditors had failed to recognise that his wife, former journalist Gayle Killilea, owned separate corporate structures and assets. “The last time I saw her, she did not weigh 200 pounds and have grey hair and stubble,” he observes.

In relation to Ulster Bank, he suggests that “chasing one of the poster boys of the property bust and his wife is their idea of a new blood sport”.

Dunne says the returns Nama would earn from “the valuable properties” taken into receivership, coupled with the personal taxes he paid and construction employment he generated during the boom, meant he did not owe any more money.

“I consider my debt to the Irish State to be cleared,” he writes.

The fact that developers are “now pariahs” conveys the message “that if you invest and live in Ireland, you are a fool and will eventually be subject of attack”. He argues that the Irish economy will not recover “as long as this message permeates”.

The idea that Irish taxpayers would be made liable for developers and bank debts is “beyond anyone’s worst nightmare” during the construction bubble.

“I regret any involvement I have had in making life difficult financially for any Irish resident. I have always loved, and been loyal to, my country,” the US resident writes.

Returning to a Christian theme, Dunne says he would not “pass judgment” on other developers or business people in relation to their borrowings. He also turned to a golf metaphor. “If life is equated to a game of golf, I feel I still have the back nine to play.”

While the more famous victim of Good Friday persecution is said to have been a mere 33 at the age of his crucifixion, Dunne says he is grateful to have the opportunity to behave even younger than this on occasion.

“We only get to walk the fairways of life once and, while I am 58 years old, I feel like 48, think like 38 and, thankfully, sometimes I get to act like I am 28.”