“What I am very interested about is how the Ulster Bank had sought to have him declared bankrupt here in Ireland six weeks previously. They had some man over in America running around trying to serve papers on him and they didn’t manage to serve papers. Now I am a reporter in a newspaper (sic). If you told me tomorrow, go get on a plane, go find a man and put an envelope in his hand, I’d do that within 48 hours so I don’t understand what this guy from the Ulster Bank was on a per diem rate and he was working it up and saying if I run around for six weeks, I could just charge them a couple of hundred dollars a day, I don’t know. I mean all you had to do was sit in the car down the road from Sean Dunne’s house, wait until he comes out the gate, goes for a train or goes for a pint of milk down the road. “How you going Sean, here’s the papers, come back to Ireland”” Ronald Quinlan speaking on Tonight with Vincent Browne 9th April 2013
Vincent Browne last night – 10 days after the subject had been talked to death elsewhere – addressed the subject of Sean Dunne and Irish citizens going abroad for bankruptcy. He was joined by a panel which included the Sunday Independent’s Special correspondent, Ronald Quinlan who claimed that Ulster Bank had engaged someone to serve bankruptcy papers on Sean in the US in the six weeks before Sean’s Good Friday filing for bankruptcy in Connecticut – remember in February 2013, Ulster Bank sought permission from the High Court to serve bankruptcy papers on Sean in the US. Ronald is baffled and said that if he had been told to go “find a man and put an envelope in his hand”, he could do that within 48 hours. And Ronald just doesn’t understand how the man from Ulster Bank was unable to serve Sean. After all, it was just a matter of waiting in a car outside Sean’s gaff and when Sean came out of his house to fetch “a pint of milk” it would be gotcha!
At a general level, what the programme didn’t really appreciate is that there is a financial difference between a 3-12 year bankruptcy in Ireland compared to a 5-month bankruptcy in Connecticut because in both jurisdictions, your earnings during the bankruptcy are seized with you left with just enough for basic living expenses. I don’t know what Sean’s earning potential is these days, but given his experience and bulging address book, it is likely well north of €100,000. So there’s a €250,000 difference (less basic living expenses) between an Irish and a Connecticut bankruptcy. And during the 3-year period there may be digging for undisclosed assets or scrutiny of transfers – this can also take place after discharge but during the bankruptcy period it is more potent. Okay, Sean might be out of work at present and might decide to sit around on his backside for the next three years in Ireland during an Irish bankruptcy, but for a man who has been dynamic throughout his adult life, that would be painful.
So, apart from claims about Ulster Bank trying to serve papers on Sean, not much light shone on anything else. British taxpayers who fund Royal Bank of Scotland which owns Ulster Bank might ask questions about the failure of their man to serve bankruptcy papers, but for us, it’s not really relevant.
And lastly, Ronald says in terms of transparency, what would be interesting would be if NAMA were to tell us the sheer level of indebtedness of developers on the day their loans were brought into NAMA. This information on the NAMA website might help there!