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US jury orders wife of Seán Dunne to pay €18 million to bankruptcy trustee

The unanimous decision from the 10-person jury was the result of a five-week civil trial.

File photo of Gayle Killilea and Seán Dunne in 2008.
File photo of Gayle Killilea and Seán Dunne in 2008.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

A US JURY has made a multi-million euro award to a bankruptcy trustee of bankrupt Irish property developer Seán Dunne.

Gayle Killilea – a former gossip columnist and the estranged wife of Dunne – has been ordered by a court in New Haven, Connecticut to pay just over €18 million in debts to Dunne’s bankruptcy trustee Richard Coan. 

The decision from the 10-person jury was the result of a five-week civil trial. 

According to court documents, the jury found that Coan proved that Dunne engaged in “intentionally fraudulent” transfers of money and assets to Killilea. 

The bulk of the €18 million that Killilea has been ordered to pay is made up of the €14 million proceeds from the 2013 sale of the couple’s Walford residence in Ballsbridge.

The house previously sold in 2005 for €58 million. 

The jury also found that Dunne “engaged in an intentionally fraudulent money transfer of €3,015,000 from his joint Credit Suisse account with Gayle Killilea to Gayle Killilea’s individual account in violation of Irish law” and that Killilea was liable for the transfer. 

The rest of the €18 million is made up of cash, property and other assets worth around €1 million.

Seán Dunne is Irish businessman and property developer, who was very active during the Celtic Tiger years. He declared bankrupt in 2013 in Ireland and in Connecticut in the US.

Ulster Bank petitioned the High Court in February 2013 to have Dunne adjudicated bankrupt here over default on some €164 million in loans.

The following month, Dunne filed for bankruptcy in Connecticut when he claimed to have debts of $1 billion and assets of $55 million. 

His Irish bankruptcy was extended by 12 years by the High Court in October of last year. 

Statement 

Killilea’s legal team made a statement following the jury’s finding yesterday, calling it a “mixed result”. 

“The verdict awarded substantially less than the €100 million the Trustee was claiming, although the assertion that Gayle Killilea was transferred €100 million from Sean Dunne was wildly exaggerated from day one,” the statement reads. 

In our view the jury found Sean Dunne solvent through at least September 2008 and the 2005 and 2008 agreements between Sean Dunne and Gayle Killilea were valid.

Killilea’s legal team said that they believe the jury “was confused” as they found that the Walford residence was transferred by Sean Dunne to Killilea on 29 March, 2013 (as stated in court documents). Killilea’s team claim “it had been owned by Gayle Killilea since at least October 2006″.

The statement said that may discuss the legal issues around Walford and other aspects of the verdict with the judge and “may pursue an appeal if necessary”.

“The Trustee’s claims were denied as to Gayle Killilea’s Swiss and US investments,” the statement continues. 

There was no finding of any misconduct or fraud by Gayle Killilea. We would like to thank the jury for their time, effort and sacrifice over the past month.

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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