Nama attempts to block Dunne from fresh financial start in US

Agency claims developer ‘deliberately and fraudulently’ omitted details on finances

The National Asset Management Agency has taken a fresh legal challenge against property developer Sean Dunne in a bid to stop him walking away from debts of more than €700 million in the United States.

The State loans agency, which has a judgment debt of €185 million against Mr Dunne, filed a legal complaint within Mr Dunne's US bankruptcy proceedings in a Connecticut court seeking to block his discharge from bankruptcy, which would prevent him embarking debt-free on a fresh financial start.

The latest skirmish between Nama and Mr Dunne comes as the developer is due to make a second appearance before his creditors at a meeting today in New Haven, Connecticut.

Nama claims in a legal complaint filed late on Monday that the bankrupt developer made numerous false statements in his first meeting with creditors last month. He filed for bankruptcy in March.


The agency alleges that Mr Dunne omitted from his US bankruptcy case details relating to properties in which he had an interest and the transfer of properties and other assets including a hotel in South Africa and a property in Norfolk, England, to his wife, Gayle Killilea.

He "made the omissions and misstatements deliberately, fraudulently and/or with reckless indifference to the truth", Nama company National Asset Loan Management noted.

The misstatements relate to properties, assets and money in Ireland, England, South Africa and Switzerland, and multimillion dollar properties in Greenwich, Connecticut and Rye, New York.

Under US bankruptcy law, a debtor should not be discharged from their debts if they “knowingly and fraudulently in, or in connection with, the bankruptcy case, made a false oath or account”, said Nama.

Nama claimed that Mr Dunne transferred properties and other assets to Ms Killilea after he had received letters from Ulster Bank seeking the repayment of a €165 million loan relating to his purchase of part of AIB Bankcentre in Ballsbridge, Dublin.

In 2008 Mr Dunne transferred all of the shares in his development company, Mountbrook, to Ms Killilea and assigned millions of euro in loans owed to him by Mountbrook and associated companies to his wife. These loans due to Ms Killilea were subsequently repaid by the firms, claimed Nama.

The State agency said it had obtained accounts for Mountbrook as part of its legal action against Mr Dunne last year showing the repayment of €4.7 million in shareholder loans by the company in 2008.

Nama also claim that Mountbrook’s 2008 accounts show that a loan of €1 million was repaid to South African company Mayfestive Investments, controlled by Ms Killilea.

The agency said that Mr Dunne’s transfer of his shares in Mountbrook to Ms Killilea had the effect of transferring ownership of the 202-room Lagoon Beach Hotel, which Mr Dunne developed in 2004.

Among Nama’s allegations were claims it previously made in a legal action taken in Connecticut’s Superior Court concerning the ownership of two apartments in Switzerland and three multimillion dollar residential properties the agency claims they developed in Greenwich, Connecticut, and a property sold off in two lots in Rye, New York.

Nama argues in the complaint that Mr Dunne tried to hide his ownership in three US companies, including a company called Mountbrook USA, set up after the couple moved to Connecticut in 2010.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times