THE chief executive of the former Anglo Irish Bank, Mike Aynsley, has accused the bankrupt billionaire Sean Quinn and his brother, former GAA president Peter Quinn, of being "economical with the truth".
After a week of fierce criticism directed by the Quinn family towards the bank -- now called the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) -- Mr Aynsley yesterday responded for the first time, taking issue with the accuracy of claims made by the Quinn 'chieftain' and his high-profile brother.
Mr Aynsley told the Sunday Independent: "I don't want to say anything about the court process. But what I will say is that both Sean Quinn and his brother Peter, over the course of the last few days, have been somewhat economical with the truth in the interviews they gave."
This newspaper has separately learned that lawyers for the IBRC have taken steps to have the fugitive, Peter Darragh Quinn, charged with perjury -- a criminal offence -- so that he can be returned from Northern Ireland.
Peter Darragh Quinn, 33, who was sentenced to three months in jail in his absence last month after he had been found to be in contempt of court, intends to remain in the North -- out of reach of the authorities here.
His father, Peter Quinn Snr, said last week that his son believed he had no chance of getting "fair play or justice" because of what he claimed was the way that the case had been handled.
The revelation that the IBRC intends to pursue Peter Darragh Quinn represents a new, and perhaps decisive, twist in a drama which has enthralled but also somewhat divided the nation.
A Sunday Independent/ Quantum Research telephone poll reveals strong support for the actions taken by the authorities here against the Quinns. However, it shows significant support for the family in their border heartland of Cavan and Monaghan.
The attempt to return Peter Darragh Quinn to the Republic would involve the IBRC making a perjury complaint to the gardai on foot of evidence that he gave on sworn affidavit and directly to the High Court. The gardai, in consultation with the DPP, would then decide if a charge of perjury was appropriate. If they decided that it was, then extradition proceedings would follow.
A High Court judge has already said that Peter Darragh Quinn had been "evasive, less than forthright and at times untruthful."
Judge Elizabeth Dunne also remarked that he "conveyed the impression of someone. . . who simply did not tell the whole truth".
Perjury is a criminal offence and -- unlike contempt of court -- it would allow the authorities in the North to arrest Mr Quinn and extradite him to the Republic, where he would face a charge of perjury, as well as having to serve the existing three-month sentence for contempt of court.
A spokesman for IBRC declined to comment yesterday.
Mr Aynsley's comments today represent the first time that a senior official from the State-owned bank has responded to claims made by Sean Quinn Snr and his brother Peter since they undertook an intense round of interviews last Sunday.
The Quinns' public-relations offensive began last Sunday with a rally in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, which was attended by a number of well-known GAA figures, such as Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte, former Armagh football manager Joe Kernan, former Meath football manager Sean Boylan and player Colm O'Rourke, as well as Fr Brian D'Arcy.
Yesterday, when asked to respond to a suggestion by Fr D'Arcy that Anglo Irish Bank had ruined Sean Quinn, Mr Aynsley said: "I will respond to that accusation at the proper time. I don't want to at the moment for a couple of reasons that I can't go into.
"The bank doesn't want to comment at this stage, other than to say that over the last few days Sean Quinn and Peter Quinn Snr have been economical with the truth in the interviews they gave."
Asked to respond to a claim by Peter Quinn Snr that attempts by his son to speak to the bank had been rebuffed, Mr Aynsley said: "I'm not going to comment at all on that exchange, but Sean Quinn and Peter Quinn have been economical with the truth, so read what you want into that."
Also yesterday, Fr D'Arcy, who has been criticised for his appearance at the Cavan rally, said that he had met Peter Darragh Quinn and told him he should go to jail if that was what justice demanded.
"I said to Peter, 'Some day this is all going have to be done, it will all have to be resolved' and I left it at that," he said on RTE radio.
While neither Sean Quinn nor his family were willing to respond directly to the IBRC chief's accusation last night, a source close to the former billionaire strongly rejected Mr Aynsley's assertion.
The source said: "Mike Aynsley is saying Sean and Peter are being economical with the truth.
"He would want to go back and check the court documents, because it's all in there.
"The Quinns met with Mike Aynsley last September about the Univermag in the Ukraine, looking for their help. Their view was, 'You were trying to move this asset beyond our reach and now someone else is taking it off you and you want our help? Away with you now if you think that's going to happen.'"
Commenting further on that meeting, the source said: "That's what Peter Quinn Snr was referring to in his interview with Shannonside Radio last week, when he said his son had tried to talk to Anglo but they ignored him."
Today's Sunday Independent/Quantum Research telephone poll will make grim reading for the Quinn family, although they will be heartened that support for them remains relatively solid in the border area.
The poll of 500 people nationwide -- including 71 in Cavan/Monaghan -- found that only 15 per cent believed Sean Quinn Snr when he said that he, his son and nephew had not tried to put assets beyond the control of the IBRC after a High Court order that they should not do so. A massive 85 per cent did not believe him.
However, in Cavan/Monaghan, a third (34 per cent) believed Mr Quinn Snr, while 66 per cent did not.
Similarly, only 15 per cent believed Mr Quinn Snr when he said there was nothing more that they could do to recover assets in Russia and the Ukraine for the IBRC; 85 per cent did not believe him.
But in Cavan/Monaghan, 31 per cent believed that the three Quinns had done everything they could to recover the assets, while 69 per cent did not believe Mr Quinn's assertion.
Nationwide, three-quarters of those polled (76 per cent) said the Financial Regulator was right to oust Mr Quinn and his family from Quinn Insurance and then place the company in administration, while 24 per cent said that Matthew Elderfield was not right to do so.
In Cavan/Monaghan, however, a majority (54 per cent) said the regulator was wrong and 46 per cent said the administration process was the correct course of action.
Asked if they believed that Mr Quinn would have paid back what he owed Anglo Irish Bank in eight years if he had been left in charge of the Quinn Group of companies, 35 per cent they believed this and 65 per cent said that they did not.
In Cavan/Monaghan, though, a clear majority (65 per cent) believed Mr Quinn, while 35 per cent of those polled there did not.