Gayle Dunne bids to cross-examine lawyer of US case

The wife of bankrupt developer Sean Dunne wants to cross-examine a lawyer representing the official dealing with Mr Dunne’s bankruptcy in the US as part of her bid to halt Irish proceedings against her.

The proceedings arise over alleged invalid transfers to Gayle Dunne of various assets of her husband.

The assets include the transfer of a hotel in South Africa valued at more than €18m. The action has been brought by Chris Lehane, the official administering Mr Dunne’s Irish bankruptcy.

Mrs Dunne, with an address at Greenwich, Connecticut, wants the proceedings brought by Mr Lehane against her discontinued. She says the transfers are already the subject of bankruptcy proceedings in the US.

In March 2013 Mr Dunne filed for bankruptcy in Connecticut, where he was based. In July 2013, he was adjudicated bankrupt in Ireland. That adjudication was upheld by the Supreme Court in May.

At the Commercial Court yesterday, Alan Doherty, for Mrs Dunne, said she believes the Irish proceedings in respect of the alleged transfer are oppressive.

His client wants any such challenge to the alleged transfer determined by the US courts.

The proceedings in the US are more advanced and there are more parties involved who will be affected by the outcome, counsel submitted.

They want permission to cross-examine Milton Berger, lawyer for Richard Coan, the bankruptcy trustee dealing with Mr Dunne’s US bankruptcy.

The Commercial Court heard Mr Berger has provided sworn statements in respect of Mr Lehane’s proceedings on issues including points of US law.

Mr Lehane’s proceedings relate to two alleged agreements between Mr Dunne and his wife in 2005 and 2008.

These relate to assets including the Lagoon Beach Hotel in Cape Town, and interests in assets including properties in Dublin and Wicklow as well as Rivertree (Numbers 1 and 3, Shrewsbury Rd, Dublin).

Mr Lehane claims the alleged agreement has no legal status.

In her defence, Mrs Dunne says she is legally married to, and is the employer of, Mr Dunne. She has been a US resident since 2010 and divides her home between the US and UK where she has business interests.

Prior to getting married, the couple had agreed that if she married Mr Dunne and started a family with him, he would immediately transfer a portion of his wealth to her, she claims.

It was stated that they reached agreements in March 2005 and in 2008, and a formal share transfer took place in October 2008.

The transfers were entered into as compensation for Mrs Dunne when she and Mr Dunne had started a family, for her career as a journalist and prospective career as a lawyer. It is denied Mr Dunne purported to transfer assets or profits to her, as alleged by Mr Lehane.

The application resumes next month.


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