Seán Dunne did not co-operate with bankruptcy process, court told

Official says level of co-operation contrasted with that given by former Anglo chairman Seán FitzPatrick

Seán Dunne filed for bankruptcy in the US in 2013. Photograph: Collins Courts

Seán Dunne filed for bankruptcy in the US in 2013. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

The official administering Seán Dunne’s Irish bankruptcy has told the High Court the businessman did not co-operate with the process after being adjudicated bankrupt here in 2013.

While there was some co-operation in 2016, that was “wholly deficient” and the non-cooperation had lead to the application to extend the bankruptcy by five years, official assignee Chris Lehane said.

Mr Lehane said he had not been provided with the detail necessary for him to administer the bankrupt’s “large” estate.

The level of co-operation from Mr Dunne contrasted with that given by former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick, whose estate was also “sizeable”, after he was adjudicated bankrupt, Mr Lehane said.

The businessman denies he has not co-operated with Mr Lehane and is opposing the latter’s application to extend his bankruptcy.

Mr Dunne’s Irish bankruptcy was due to expire in July 2016 but continues pending the outcome of the hearing before Ms Justice Caroline Costello concerning whether any extension, which can be for a maximum five years, should be granted.

Ulster Bank petitioned the High Court in February 2013 to have Mr Dunne adjudicated bankrupt here over default on some €164 million loans. The following month, Mr Dunne filed for bankruptcy in Connecticut, US, when he claimed to have debts of $1 billion (€807 million) and assets of $55 million.

In 2016, Mr Lehane initiated the bankruptcy extension application due to Mr Dunne’s alleged non-cooperation,

On Wednesday, Mr Lehane told the court he took the view in May 2016 that Mr Dunne had not co-operated with him as he, as a bankrupt, was required to do.

Under cross examination on sworn statements provided by him in support of the extension application, Mr Lehane rejected an assertion by Barra McGrory QC, for Mr Dunne, that the application to extend the bankruptcy was “grossly premature.”

While Mr Dunne had challenged the bankruptcy, he did not attend for interview with the assignee until June 2016, Mr Lehane said.

Quantity of documents

Mr Lehane accepted he had received a quantity of documents from Mr Dunne’s representatives in early 2016, including an 800-page transcript of an interview conducted with the businessman and his creditors as part of bankruptcy proceedings in the US. Mr Lehane also accepted he had received a statement of affairs from Mr Dunne in early 2016.

While he had received a large volume of material, some of which was “helpful”, he was not satisfied about the quality of the information received from Mr Dunne, Mr Lehane said.

He also took the view from the transcript that Mr Dunne’s responses to questions about assets were a “complete obfuscation” and “wholly deficient”.

He agreed he did have some contact with the Mr Dunne’s creditors, Nama and Ulster Bank, and the lawyer acting for the US trustee in bankruptcy about matters.

The decision to seek to have Mr Dunne’s bankruptcy extended was his, Mr Lehane said, and was not based on representations made to him by other parties including the creditors and the US trustee.

He also told the court his investigations into the estate are ongoing and there are other legal proceedings concerning assets which Mr Lehane claims form part of the businessman’s estate.

The other proceedings include an action over a property – Walford, Shrewsbury Road, Dublin 4, purchased by Mr Dunne in 2005. Mr Dunne denies claims by Mr Lehane that property is part of the businessman’s estate.

The hearing continues on Thursday.