Winter storm Nemo led to the cancellation of a key NAMA and Sean/Gayle Dunne hearing in the Connecticut superior court yesterday. Apparently, the hearing, which will deal with the Dunnes’ contention that the US courts don’t have jurisdiction over the NAMA claims, has been rescheduled to this coming Friday 15th February, 2013.
But in a surprise move this afternoon, in Dublin’s High Court, a non-NAMA bank, Ulster Bank has secured permission to seek to have Sean Dunne bankrupted in Ireland, where he will presently face 5-12 years of bankruptcy as justice minister Alan Shatter has not yet signed the commencement order for the new Personal Insolvency Act which would cut the bankruptcy period to three years.
RTE reports that today in Dublin’s High Court, Judge Dunne – incidentally, one of Sean Quinn’s two judicial nemeses – granted permission to Ulster Bank, which last year obtained a €164m judgment against the former “Baron of Ballsbridge”, to serve bankruptcy papers on Sean in the US. To be clear, Ulster Bank is seeking an Irish bankruptcy but since Sean is now mostly living in the United States, permission is required to serve the papers on him there. Apparently Ulster Bank want to serve Sean with the bankruptcy papers this Friday at his NAMA hearing in Connecticut, where the Dunner is expected to make an appearance.
It is hoped that there will be photographs and tweets from the Friday’s proceedings, exclusively available here.
What now for Sean? Well, when David Drumm met a brick wall in his negotiations with Anglo back in 2010, David filed for bankruptcy in Massachusetts. Sean has been living between Ireland and the US for some time, and said last year that he was emigrating to the US, like many Irish. According to RTE, the bases for an Irish bankruptcy are ” he is an Irish citizen, carries on business in Ireland, acts as a landlord in Ireland and his family continues to reside in Ireland”
Bankruptcy terms in the US are far more lenient than in Ireland, either at present or even when the new Personal Insolvency Act comes into force. Sean already has a €185m judgment against him in favour of NAMA, and with the collapse of the Irish property market – residential down 50% from peak, commercial down 67% from peak and development land down 90% from peak – Sean has little hope of satisfying the judgments. NAMA has not sought to make anyone bankrupt so far, has stated it is neutral on bankruptcy jurisdiction and seems to generally take a more relaxed position on bankruptcy compared to some banks.