Anglo-Quinn 'deal' known to officials in Finance
Published 20/09/2011 | 05:00
SENIOR officials at the Department of Finance were aware of key terms of the settlement offered by Anglo Irish Bank to Sean Quinn and his family earlier this year.
The Finance Minister would not have had to approve the deal unless it was accepted by the Quinns, but could have discouraged the bank from making an offer if he felt it was unwise.
The news came as Anglo last night strongly defended the deal offered to the family, insisting the bank was trying "to secure maximum recovery on the taxpayer's behalf" in relation to the Quinns' €2.8bn loans.
As revealed by the Irish Independent yesterday, the bank offered to let Sean Quinn's wife and five children walk away from their debts if they agreed to co-operate with Anglo's takeover of their assets.
Under the deal, the Quinns had to provide audited statements of their financial affairs from January 2007 to this April, allowing the bank to get a full picture of their assets which would then have been offset against the debts.
The family also had to surrender all shares in Quinn Group companies, resign from any positions at the companies and agree not to poach staff or set up competing business for at least two years.
Another key term required the Quinns to accept the legality of Anglo's claim on their assets, something the family is now challenging in the courts.
The Department of Finance declined to comment on the settlement offer last night, but it is understood that senior figures were briefed on the deal before it was put to the Quinn family in mid April.
Meanwhile, Anglo last night strongly defended the offer.
"The purpose of the bank's proposal was to secure a consensual agreement under which the bank would gain access to the assets in order to secure repayment of outstanding debts, without the cost of litigation," the bank said.
The costs of legal actions between Anglo and the Quinns are likely to run to millions, after the family launched a challenge against the bank's right to seize their assets.
The Quinns are arguing that Sean Quinn was given the loans for the illegal purpose of buying shares in Anglo and propping up the bank's share price. On that basis, the Quinns say Anglo has no right to seize the assets given as security for the illegal loans.
As well as cutting out legal costs, a settlement with the Quinns could also have achieved a more orderly handover of the Quinn Group businesses, which were wrested from the family in mid April.
Since then, the group has been hit by a host of sabotage attacks culminating in an arson attack at the home of Quinn Group chief executive Paul O'Brien, while some customers loyal to the Quinns are believed to have pulled contracts.
See Business Page 45