Quinn breaks silence on crisis as dump truck blocks his HQ
Published 19/04/2011 | 05:00
FORMER billionaire Sean Quinn last night blamed the loss of his empire on his "mistake" of relying too heavily on the Irish banking system and upbeat economic advice.
He broke his silence for the first time since his group was seized last Thursday and described what had happened to him as a "life sentence".
His comments came in advance of a possible meeting with Anglo Irish Bank later today as both sides try to hammer out a strategy to deal with Mr Quinn's €2.88bn debt.
His statement also came just hours after a truck caused havoc after it was abandoned outside his group's headquarters in Co Fermanagh.
Anglo seized control of Mr Quinn's manufacturing, leisure and property empire last week.
Last night, executives were still awaiting Mr Quinn's response to the bank's invitation for talks. Well-placed sources said he was still "considering his position".
Some have speculated that Mr Quinn may try to challenge Anglo's move on various legal grounds, and he is believed to have enlisted lawyers Eversheds to advise him on any action.
Mr Quinn has previously insisted he will repay every cent of the debt.
In last night's statement, Mr Quinn said the Quinn Group's businesses were "among the best and most progressive in the world". "Our mistake was to place an overreliance on the Irish banking system and the many predictions for continued sustained growth in the Irish economy, from some of the country's leading financial services experts," he said.
"Ireland needs enterprise and entrepreneurs more than ever at this time but mistakes in business should not result in a life sentence."
The "mistake" is understood to refer to the €3bn losses Mr Quinn suffered after a disastrous bet on Anglo's shares as the bank teetered towards nationalisation.
It was that move which gave Anglo the power to seize control of the Quinn empire, since the share capital of the Quinn Group was included in the security for the loan Mr Quinn took to bet on the shares. Mr Quinn described Anglo's move to send in a share receiver over the Quinn Group as "the greatest upset for me and my family in my entire business career".
Meanwhile a massive dump truck caused havoc at Quinn Group headquarters yesterday after being abandoned in front of the company's main entrance.
The Komatsu earth mover was left blocking access to the building in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh. Quinn workers were unable to move the vehicle all day and it remained wedged up against a traffic bollard last night as arrangements were made to bring in a crane to load it on to a truck.
The driver of the dump-truck removed the number plates and all other identifying features before abandoning the vehicle shortly after midnight on Monday morning.
However an employee told the Irish Independent that CCTV footage would have captured the event.
Serial numbers on the vehicle's chassis and engine should also enable police to track down the owner.
The PSNI are treating the matter as criminal damage and were appealing last night for witnesses to come forward.
A spokesperson for the Quinn Group would not speculate about the reasons for the protest.