Tuesday 25 July 2017

Regulator's Quinn probe entering its final stages

Emmet Oliver and Laura Noonan

The investigation into Quinn Insurance by the Financial Regulator is in the final stages, with investigators zoning in on two areas relating to guarantees given by the company's subsidiaries to the wider Quinn Group.

The gardai and the corporate enforcement watchdog Paul Appleby are being kept informed about the investigation, which was launched last month. Material has been taken from the Quinn Insurance offices and lawyers from the Financial Regulator will make a call on what steps to take next within days.

No formal notification of suspicion has been sent yet to either the gardai or Mr Appleby's office and this is the crucial decision to be decided by lawyers at the regulator.

It is understood the regulator originally drew up a list of 11 areas of concern, but this has now been whittled down to just two areas. The issues are about who signed off on the guarantees and what authorisation they had to do so.

The Quinn Group yesterday declined to comment on whether they had consulted lawyers about the regulator's ongoing investigation into matters of concern at Quinn Insurance, and the prospect of that investigation being referred to Mr Appleby's office or the gardai.

The investigation is hampering the Anglo proposal to take over the wider Quinn Group.

This is because the regulator wants to clear up any "reputational'' issues at Quinn Insurance before it delivers a definitive judgment on the Anglo plan. The regulator is also believed to be keen on Anglo bringing in an insurance partner into its plan. An insurance company who took equity in any new Quinn Group structure could have merit, according to observers.

If prosecutions are not brought against anyone at Quinn Insurance, it is still possible some individuals may face censure under the Fitness and Probity regime operated by the Financial Regulator.

Meanwhile, Quinn Insurance declined to give details of how many learner drivers it had insured since the Financial Regulator allowed the insurer back into the market last week, citing "commercial sensitivities".

Comparison

"We are currently working with all of the well-known UK price comparison sites to return to their panel of insurers," a spokeswoman said, adding that the insurer expected the process to be "completed over the coming days".

Quinn's administrators are submitting a constant stream of information to the regulator with a view to getting permission to re-open more UK and Northern Ireland business lines, particularly the general private motor category.

The regulator has committed to addressing the situation as a matter of "urgency".

The administrators are hoping to have more detail about the UK and Northern Irish business before they outline plans for job cuts to staff on Friday, since the regulator's decision will materially impact the number of jobs that need to be cut.

Irish Independent

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