A fortnight ago, the Irish Daily Mail – a newspaper which has achieved fame in recent months in US courts where NAMA has submitted its reports as evidence, much to the exasperation of the judge – reported a third sale of a property associated with the Dunnes, Sean and wife Gayle – The Dunner and The Dunnertrix. The property at Number One Hidden Spring Lane in the New York suburb of Rye was reported by the Mail to have been purchased by “a trustee using the address of Mrs Dunne’s lawyers” for USD 1.7m in May 2011 and was sold to the owner of a neighbouring property for USD 2.5m in October 2012. The paper alleges that “a quick” USD 700,000 profit was made on the property but the paper doesn’t directly say that the Dunnes benefitted, even though the paper obtained evidence of taxes being paid on the property with cheques apparently signed Gayle.
Deeds exclusively published on here today reinforce the perception that the Dunnes were indeed involved with the transaction but that there may be more to the transaction than reported by the Mail. Papers uncovered at the Office of the Westchester County Clerk, an office whose functions cover the geographical area which includes Rye, show the property was transferred at least three times between May 2011 and October 2012 and that the property was subdivided into two lots of approximately size which seems odd, given the ultimate buyer is reported by the Mail to be returning the property to nature.
The first document is a deed dated 5th October 2011 but which relates to a transaction on 8th July 2011 where an individual named Brendan O’Reilly whose status is that of a trustee, transfers what appears to be the entire property at 1 Hidden Spring Land to another individual Raissis Scott another trustee for USD 10 (yes, ten dollars and “other [undisclosed] valuable consideration”) The deed is submitted to the registrar by what looks like a firm of lawyers, McCullough, Goldberger and Staudt LLP with a submitter reference “Mountbrook USA – Deed”. We know that Mountbrook USA is associated with Sean Dunne.
The second document is a deed dated 18thOctober 2012 but which relates to a transaction on 23rd August 2012 between Scott Raissis on the one hand and an individual named as Kevin McQuillan or Kevin A McQuillan on the other hand where what appears to be the property at 1 Hidden Spring Lane is transferred from Scott Raissis to Kevin McQuillan for ten dollars and “other [undisclosed] valuable consideration”
The third document is a deed dated 18th October 2012 also but which relates to a transaction on 9th October 2012 where what appears to be part only of the property is transferred from Kevin McQuillan to a company Hidden Spring Lane One LLC for USD 1,355,400. Evidence of a subdivision of the property into two lots, one 0.7 acres, the other 0.9 acres, is shown on the map below obtained from US zoning authorities.
There may be other documents and there is reference to a further transfer on transactions affecting the land, a transfer from Kevin McQuillan to Hidden Spring Lane Two LLC on 9th October 2012 for USD 1,154,600. In other words, there was a subdivision of the property, and at this stage it is unclear if the buyer named by the MoS, Jim Sandling bought one or both subdivisions. There is certainly a coincidence in the purchase price cited by the MoS being USD 2.5m and the sum of the two transfers from Kevin McQuillan being USD 2.5m, but there is also a possibility that one subdivision only was bought for USD 2.5m and that the other has been retained.
The Mail gave the impression that the original buyer of the property in May 2011 merely demolished the existing colonial mansion on the site and cut down a few trees. That being the case, and the Mail estimates the cost of the “works” would have been USD 100,000, it would seem that a far more significant profit was generated on the property than USD 700,000 if only one subdivision was sold for USD 2.5m.
And who are Brendan O’Reilly and Kevin McQuillan? We don’t know on here at this stage though the Mail reported “Other documents led the MoS [Mail on Sunday] to an Irish contractor whose name briefly appeared as the property’s trustee. He agreed to speak on condition of anonymity. .‘I had no idea who the Dunnes were when we were introduced because I’ve lived in America since the 1970s,’ he said..‘I was asked to be the trustee. I wasn’t sure what that meant exactly, but I signed the documents at the lawyer’s office. Our working relationship on Hidden Spring Lane lasted about a month.’ “
So the chap speaking on condition of anonymity would appear to be Brendan O’Reilly and the MoS didn’t appear to challenge his version of events – is it an everyday occurrence in the US to be asked to be a trustee of a million dollar property? We don’t know who Kevin McQuillan is, but “McQuillan” is certainly an Irish, or at least Gaelic, name.
The existence of the reference “Mountbrook USA” isn’t probative of the involvement of the Dunnes but it in the circumstances along with the cheques apparently signed by Gayle on the property, it certainly prompts questions by NAMA which is generally alleging shenanigans against Gayle.
NAMA is at present trying to pursue Gayle and Sean Dunne in the US courts with claims of improper transfers of wealth between husband and wife, effected so as to place that wealth beyond the reach of creditors, and with a €185m judgment against Sean, NAMA is certainly a creditor! The Dunnes deny NAMA’s claims and accuse NAMA of undermining their reputation. The latest is we wait to hear if the Connecticut Superior Court will entertain a fresh application from NAMA pursuing Gayle in what NAMA says would be a complex court hearing.