Friday 9 December 2016

Quinns got millions in expenses

Group was used to fund family's luxurious lifestyle, from Sky TV to cars and mortgage payments

Tom Lyons EXCLUSIVE

Published 15/01/2012 | 05:00

Under the spotlight: Sean Quinn, founder of Quinn Group
Under the spotlight: Sean Quinn, founder of Quinn Group

The family of Ireland's former richest man, Sean Quinn, billed their cement to insurance empire over €1m in expenses annually for everything from Sky television bills to the mortgages on their luxury homes.

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The Quinns used the company to fund an array of expenses that allowed them to enjoy a lifestyle far in excess of their more modest wages.

Thousands of bills and receipts submitted by Quinn, the founder of the group, and his five children, Sean Quinn Jr, Aoife Quinn, Ciara Quinn, Collette Quinn, and Brenda Quinn, were submitted to various companies within the Quinn Group.

These bills included Bord Gais and ESB bills for family members' homes, Sky television subscriptions and Setanta sports television packages and other utility bills.

At least one family member had a company credit card that was used to buy designer clothes, meals, groceries and other living expenses worth tens of thousands of euro. Family members' mortgage bills were also charged to the Quinn Group relating to luxury homes in Dublin and Cavan. These included a penthouse in Dublin and substantial homes in the Cavan area.

A full review of the family's expenses is being undertaken by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), formerly Anglo Irish Bank, which took over the Quinn Group after Quinn Snr and his family ran up debts of €2.8bn. This review is looking at how these expensive bills were accounted for by the group when it was controlled by the family.

IBRC may also look at the family's use of a corporate jet, which can cost over €5,000 for every hour it is in the air. The IBRC may also examine whether it was always used for company business or if it was ever used for personal trips such as holidays.

The Quinn Group's 10-seater private jet, a 2005 Dassault Falcon 2000 EX, with gold fittings, went on the market last year with a price-tag of €12m; and the company helicopter, an eight-seater 2000 Agusta A109E, is also being sold for €1.7m.

Other perks the family had access to include high-value company cars, including a BMW 650i convertible worth over €90,000.

Quinn and his children, who all worked in the company, were all paid small salaries relative to the size and profitability of the group during the boom.

Sean Quinn Jnr and his sisters Aoife and Ciara all worked in Quinn Insurance. Collette and Brenda Quinn, meanwhile, worked in the hospitality division of the group, which owns the Slieve Russell in Co Cavan as well as hotels in Central Europe.

Accounts published for the Quinn Group show the highest-paid director of the company, understood to be Sean Quinn, was on average paid less than €500,000 a year.

However, this surged in the group's last set of accounts under the ownership of the Quinn family, in the year to the end of 2009, when the company made a €950m loss; yet the highest-paid director of the group saw their salary treble to €1.2m.

Sean Quinn has refused to confirm or comment on whether he was the recipient of this record salary, which came ahead of hundreds of job losses in the group.

The issue of extensive benefits-in-kind has already been acknowledged as an issue by the tycoon.

In a submission to the High Court in Belfast just before Christmas, Quinn said he had been "contacted by HM Revenue & Customs, indicating that they wish to investigate the tax implications of historic benefits-in-kind identified in my tax returns.

"I do not anticipate this will give rise to a claim," he added.

Sean Quinn, who was once worth more than €4bn, went bankrupt in the North last November. Last week, however, IBRC managed to overturn this ruling and a new case is set to be heard in Dublin tomorrow, which will lead to his bankruptcy in the Republic.

The Quinn family are satisfied that all their tax affairs are in order. They were drafted and signed off by PwC, said a spokesman this weekend.

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