Earlier today in Dublin’s High Court, Ulster Bank successfully sought permission to serve bankruptcy proceedings on Sean Dunne in the United State. The move has left a lot of people scratching their heads.
RTE’s report indicates Ulster Bank wanted to serve the papers on Sean at a court hearing on Friday this week. As far as can be established this evening, there is no hearing scheduled for Friday and it will probably be a fortnight at least before the hearing – cancelled yesterday because of winter storm Nemo – is rescheduled. What is apparently taking place on Friday this week is the long-awaited deposition of former NAMA employee Kevin Nowlan who was the asset manager involved with Sean Dunne’s loans. But Sean Dunne wouldn’t be expected to attend that deposition.
And in any event, Ulster Bank knows the address of the Dunnes, we all do – it’s 421 Field Point Road, Greenwich, Connecticut, CT 06830, USA. We even know the Dunnes’ attorney and their address. And in Connecticut, there is no need for personal service, you can apparently just send the documents recorded delivery.
So, what on earth is Ulster Bank up to?
And given the likelihood that any attempt to bankrupt the Dunner in Ireland would prompt a voluntary application for bankruptcy in Connecticut where the Dunnes have been living for at least two years, why? Remember all the Judge has done today is granted permission to serve bankruptcy papers in the United States, if the bankruptcy jurisdiction was disputed, and the signs are that it would, then there would be a further hearing.
It would be interesting to establish if there has been any co-ordination between NAMA (owed €185m by Sean Dunne) and Ulster Bank (owed €164m by Sean Dunne), but the chances of them providing comment is practically zero. NAMA has not been having an easy time in its pursuit of the Dunnes, with the Connecticut courts firstly refusing a freezing order and then the Dunnes winning the right to have NAMA employees, including Kevin Nowlan deposed. It is understood the Dunnes are convinced that they will be successful in having proceedings thrown out any way for lack of jurisdiction. Would bankrupting Sean Dunne place a further stay on proceedings, or even mean the proceedings had to be started afresh? Would the bankruptcy offer NAMA a face-saving means to abandon its pursuit of the Dunnes? Who knows.
There is also the small matter of Ulster Bank’s connection to another case, the Mavior v Zerko Limited (“Zerko” is the name on the Court Service, it may be “Zrko” or “Zyrko”) case where a company connected to Gayle Dunne is seeking costs of refurbishing the Ballsbridge hotels after the flooding in 2011. Zerko is owned by Ulster Bank, and might this latest machination be aimed at forcing a settlement?
So many questions.