Bankrupt Quinn ordered to pay €416m to Anglo
Cases against businessman's children unlikely to come before courts until new year
Published 24/11/2011 | 05:00
BUSINESSMAN Sean Quinn was yesterday hit with the largest judgment ever registered in an Irish court -- but his children are unlikely to face a similar action to hold them responsible for the family's €2.8bn debts until at least next year.
The High Court yesterday granted Anglo Irish Bank a judgment compelling bankrupt Mr Quinn to repay some €416m -- an amount that he admitted he owed the bailed-out bank.
On Monday, the head of the commercial court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, will rule on another €1.6bn, which Anglo says is owed to it but which Mr Quinn disputes.
Mr Quinn's children have also signed personal guarantees in relation to some of the family's borrowing. In a recent affidavit, Anglo executive Richard Woodhouse said there was a "strong possibility" the children could "soon be declared bankrupt".
The Irish Independent understands, however, that Anglo is unlikely to move for judgments against the children over the coming weeks, since their loans are already the subject of extensive litigation.
Those cases are expected to come before the courts early next year, with the children poised to argue that Anglo had no right to seize the Quinn Group from them since the bank's loans to the family are invalid.
Meanwhile, Anglo will today ask the Belfast courts to overturn Mr Quinn's Northern Ireland bankruptcy. The bank is opposing Mr Quinn's claim that his 'centre of main interests' is Northern Ireland.
Mr Quinn's house is just across the Border in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, while his business empire straddles both Fermanagh and Cavan. He argues that he has gone for bankruptcy in the North since he was born and bred there.
The bailed-out bank has been advised that it stands a greater chance of recovering assets from the one-time billionaire if his bankruptcy is done through the courts in Dublin rather than in Belfast.
If Mr Quinn goes through the process in the North, Anglo believes it could have to fork out hundreds of thousands in fees to specially retained legal advisers in that jurisdiction, rather than using its existing counsel.
The bank is also concerned that the Northern Ireland process could take longer to kick in than a process down south, making it harder for the bank to recover assets.
Mr Quinn's bankruptcy trustee can review transfers of wealth the businessman made within five years of the bankruptcy swinging into force. If the bankruptcy is six months late in coming into effect, then transfers Mr Quinn made five years from today will have fallen out of the bankruptcy's scope.
Another motivation for Anglo's desire to pursue Mr Quinn's bankruptcy in Dublin is the bank's hope of cross examining the billionaire about his affairs in an Irish courtroom.
The Northern Ireland system could see Mr Quinn able to re-enter the business world in as little as two years, compared to a lockout of as long as 12 years under Irish law.