‘Baron of Ballsbridge’ declared bankrupt

Developer Sean Dunne was yesterday declared bankrupt by the High Court.

The man once dubbed the “Baron of Ballsbridge” will have to go before the High Court if he wants the adjudication of bankruptcy set aside.

Ulster Bank, supported by Nama, applied for the former developer to be adjudicated bankrupt on foot of a €163m judgement against him.

The name of the Co Carlow man was called out twice in the High Court, before Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne heard the bankruptcy petition on behalf of Ulster Bank.

There was no appearance on behalf of Mr Dunne and he was not represented during the 15- minute hearing.

Ms Justice Dunne, before making the order, was told that notice of the Irish bankruptcy petition was pinned to the front door of the US home of the Dunne family this month by a US state marshall, when Sean Dunne’s wife, Gayle Killilea, refused to accept the papers.

The US state marshall in Connecticut said he had spoken to a ” blonde lady with an Irish accent” who said she was Mrs Dunne and her husband was away for a few weeks, before she drove off in a SUV.

He then attached the documents to the Dunne’s front door.

Lyndon McCann, counsel for Ulster Bank, told the court there was a “critical urgency” to the case and he referred to “voluntary dispositions” to Mr Dunne’s wife, Ms Killilea, which could only be examined within a certain timeframe.

Mr Dunne, counsel said, was clearly aware of the proceedings and he had done everything to thwart them.

Mr Dunne, he said, had ample opportunity to “tee up representation” in relation to the petition and he asked that the proceedings go ahead. He said Nama felt the same way in relation to the case.

He said Mr Dunne was not like a debtor knowing nothing of bankruptcy proceedings and being served with a notice.

Making the order to adjudicate Mr Dunne bankrupt, Ms Justice Dunne said the history of the case was complicated with Mr Dunne bringing proceedings in the US.

There was no doubt, the judge said, Mr Dunne had been duly served in relation to the Irish proceedings and it would “not have come as a surprise to the debtor”. The material before the court she said showed that Mr Dunne was always aware of the existence of the case and the proceedings in the US had been brought because of the case before the Irish High Court.

Making the order to adjudicate Mr Dunne bankrupt, Ms Justice Dunne said it was open to Mr Dunne to apply to the court to have the order set aside.

Mr Dunne, she said, claims to be domiciled outside the jurisdiction and there may be arguments in relation to that.

A court-appointed official assignee will now liaise with the US authorities over what is to happen with Mr Dunne’s assets.

Last month, the American court-appointed trustee managing Mr Dunne’s US bankruptcy supported an application by Ulster Bank to have Sean Dunne adjudicated bankrupt in parallel proceedings in Ireland.

The move came after a judge in the US last week ruled bankruptcy proceedings in Ireland can go ahead. Mr Dunne filed for bankruptcy in the US three months ago and has been attempting to stop proceedings going ahead in this jurisdiction.

Ulster Bank filed a motion with the bankruptcy court in Connecticut asking that it be allowed to serve papers on Mr Dunne so as to continue proceedings in Ireland.

Judge Alan Shiff in the US ruled in favour of Ulster Bank. Mr Dunne also lost his appeal.

Judge Shiff said bankruptcy proceedings in Ireland began six weeks before Mr Dunne filed for protection in the US and most of Mr Dunne’s assets are in Ireland, as are most of his creditors.


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