‘Love and affection’ pre-nup deal cost Dunne fifth of wealth

A prenuptial agreement between former property developer Seán Dunne and his wife Gayle Killilea in early 2005 in Thailand saw him hand over a fifth of his estimated €500m wealth in return for her “love and affection”.

Mr Dunne dismissed doubts about his motivation for pledging a substantial portion of his fortune to his wife as “pure bunkum” but also admitted for the first time that so-called Creditor A, who is listed as being owed €33m, was in fact his current wife, Ms Killilea.

“I’m not going to get into what my wife gives me matrimonially,” Mr Dunne replied when asked what considerations she offered in return during one of many tense exchanges.

The subject of an Isle of Man company, Traviata, dominated the session at the offices of a US bankruptcy trustee, the shares of which Mr Dunne claimed are in a trust for his children.

US trustee Rich Coan labelled Mr Dunne’s refusal to answer questions about a court proceeding in Switzerland involving Mr Dunne and his wife as “absurd” but James Berman instructed his client to refuse to respond for fear of infringing in camera law, a contention opposed by Mr Coan and lawyers for Nama and Ulster Bank.

“Mr Dunne is in a bind,” said Mr Coan. “He has the ability to discuss the Swiss proceedings and there’s a real problem for him if he doesn’t answer.”

The stalemate was broken when Mr Coan asked Mr Dunne the identity of Creditor B who is listed as being owed €2.3m. He acknowledged for the first time his former wife Jennifer Coyle was Creditor B. It was subsequently acknowledged Creditor A, owed €33m, was his current wife.

Tom Curran, for Nama, focused on the 2005 agreement and “continuation” of that agreement in 2008.

Mr Dunne said he had not fulfilled all the obligations but did explain the build-up to the agreement. “I wanted my wife to be financially independent,” he recalled, describing how he signed over 70% of the profits from six of his substantial assets to her. “She transferred her love and affection… And children… cooking the odd meal, washing the odd shirt.”

The session will continue today.

Absconding debtor

By Ann O’Loughlin

Seán Dunne fears he could be regarded as an “absconding debtor” and arrested if he comes to this country to visit his mother or daughter, the High Court heard yesterday.

Mr Dunne, once known as the Baron of Ballsbridge but now living in the US, is appealing the High Court’s refusal to set aside his Irish bankruptcy but has failed to get court orders preventing continuing steps here to realise his assets for his creditors.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern yesterday also refused Mr Dunne’s request to direct the official assignee administering the developer’s bankruptcy, Chris Lehane, to provide assurances Mr Dunne would not be arrested here as an absconding bankrupt.

The assignee cannot procure any arrest without a court order.


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