Seán Dunne not ‘au fait’ with wife’s business affairs

Developer claimed his spouse Gail Killilea ‘wanted to have her own financial affairs totally independent of me’

The official administering the US bankruptcy of developer Seán Dunne yesterday expressed incredulity at Mr Dunne's claim that, since the transfer of assets to his wife, Gayle Killilea, he was not au fait with her investments.

Mr Dunne, who has debts of $942 million (€710 million), faced questions before his creditors yesterday for the first time in his US bankruptcy proceedings.

The developer was asked by bankruptcy trustee Richard Coan whether or not he owed the former journalist $44 million (€33 million). However, his lawyers, and lawyers acting for Ms Killilea, interjected warning Mr Coan that Mr Dunne risked running foul of Irish in-camera rules regarding family court cases if he answered.

Mr Coan said he had deduced that Ms Killilea and Mr Dunne’s previous wife were two creditors listed as A & B in court documentation. Both appeared as priority debtors, with the explanation “domestic support obligation”.


Mr Dunne was repeatedly questioned by Mr Coan about assets he had transferred to Ms Killilea including a hotel in South Africa. Mr Dunne told the trustee that he had a 20 per cent interest in an unnamed hotel which was acquired between 1997 and 1998 by Mountbrook Holdings, his main company. He said he disposed of his shares in Mountbrook to Ms Killilea in 2008, who at the same time acquired the 30 per cent held by his adult children and a 50 per cent stake held on their behalf by a trust. The company was renamed Mavior.

Mr Dunne said that "to the best of my knowledge" Ms Killilea still owned 100 per cent of the company but he was not "au fait" with her investments and affairs. He also said he could not be certain that Mavior still owned the hotel.

Mr Coan expressed incredulity at this. "It is hard for me to believe you would not have discussions about this with your wife," he said.

Mr Dunne replied: “I know my wife still owns it. What entity she holds it in I do not know.”

Mr Dunne had been managing director of Mavior until he resigned in 2010. When asked by Mr Coan why he resigned he replied: “My wife wanted me to resign. She wanted to have her own financial affairs totally independent of me.”

John McManus

John McManus

John McManus is a columnist and Duty Editor with The Irish Times