Wife fails to stop estranged husband’s exit from bankruptcy

Judge rules application prevented man exiting bankruptcy which was, in effect, ‘penal’

The woman claimed her estranged husband may have hidden assets. File photograph: Getty Images

The woman claimed her estranged husband may have hidden assets. File photograph: Getty Images

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A woman has lost her application to have her estranged husband’s financial affairs investigated by his bankruptcy official arising from claims he may have hidden assets.

The High Court decision by Ms Justice Caroline Costello clears the way for the man to exit bankruptcy.

An order directing the Official Assignee (OA), Chris Lehane, to further investigate the matters raised by the woman was not warranted, the judge held.

The woman previously secured a temporary order preventing the man exiting bankruptcy on grounds including he failed to answer questions about his finances before going bankrupt on his own petition in 2016 after his construction business failed.

Denied claims

The man was due to exit bankruptcy last summer. He opposed his estranged wife’s motion for an investigation by Mr Lehane and denied claims he had hidden or had failed to disclose assets to the OA.

The woman claimed she is a creditor owed monies by her estranged husband, including an €18,000 loan she advanced to him in 2012.

In her judgment, Ms Justice Costello said, since the woman had brought the application, considerable material had been brought to the OA’s attention and the OA had had the opportunity to look into the husband’s affairs in greater detail.

The OA makes no complaint regarding the man’s co-operation and was satisfied no further investigation into the vast majority of the matters raised is required, the judge said.

Discrete matters

An investigation into two discrete matters set out in the man’s statement of affairs is continuing and the OA had stated he could continue his investigations without any orders preventing the man’s discharge from his bankruptcy, she noted.

The bringing of the application had prevented the man exiting bankruptcy which was, in effect, “penal”, the judge said.

She was satisfied to dismiss the application and allow the man exit bankruptcy.

The woman brought the proceedings arising from what she alleged were inconsistencies in financial information provided to various parties including the Revenue and the OA. She said her concerns arose out of a failure to receive answers to some “straight forward and simple” questions she put to her husband concerning his financial affairs before he was adjudicated bankrupt.

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