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Friday 29 August 2014

Aoife Quinn: No money lodged in accounts opened after asset-stripping case started

Brian Hutton

Published 24/01/2013 | 18:24

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Aoife Quinn arriving at the High Court hearing. Photo: Collins

A DAUGHTER of ex-billionaire Sean Quinn opened several bank accounts in Dubai after legal action was launched to stop the family asset-stripping their global property empire.

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But Aoife Quinn said no money was ever lodged in the four accounts, which were opened in four different currencies - euro, US dollars, Sterling and a local currency - a year ago.



Ms Quinn told the Commercial Court she had no documents or records from the accounts as she handed them over to the family's former legal team.



In the first day of disclosure hearings - originally expected to last two days but which have already been extended - Ms Quinn also claimed:



- She was not sure of the amount of her six-figure salary from three Russian companies;



- She never got email or written bank statements from her Moscow account, but only text messages confirming transactions;



- Her mobile phone that contained those records was stolen;



- She had no records on the 30% income tax she was paying to Russian authorities;



- She feared people were rummaging through the Quinn family's bins so stored away other records she thought were not important, because she did not have a shredder.



Ms Quinn is the first of five of Sean Quinn's children and three of their spouses to be cross-examined by lawyers for the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) about whether they fully disclosed information on assets and accounts in their names after freezing orders were imposed by the court last July.



Under questioning by Paul Gallagher, Senior Counsel for IBRC, Ms Quinn agreed she opened four "savings" accounts in Dubai in late 2011 or early 2012 but said nothing was ever lodged in them.



"Not a single cent, not even a single euro was ever put in any of those accounts," she said.



"To this day the balance is zero."



IBRC began action in mid-2011, alleging a scheme was afoot to put assets from the Quinn's International Property Group (IPG) beyond its reach.



Ms Quinn revealed she had met with Michael Waechter while in Dubai - a Swiss-born guru in company structuring and wealth management - but insisted the meeting was in a "personal capacity".



But Mr Gallagher said without an innocent explanation it was hard to see how the accounts and meeting were unconnected to an alleged scheme to put assets beyond the reach of the bank.



Questioned about her income, Ms Quinn said she was paid a salary in the region of 320,000 US dollars or euro - she was not sure - into a Russian bank account for her employment at three Russia-based companies.



She had never received any statements from the bank, only text messages advising her of any transactions, she told the court.



Asked if she thought that was suspicious, she replied: "I wasn't suspicious.



"I actually thought it was convenient.



"I'm not trying to be smart or cheeky."



Although she had kept the text messages on her mobile phone, it was stolen when her car was broken into, an incident for which people were charged and convicted, she said.



Ms Quinn said she did not understand the employment contracts she signed as they were in Russian and did not keep any copies.



She only learnt her salary when she first got a text message from the bank, she told the court.



Judge Peter Kelly said court documents showed Ms Quinn was in fact paid a salary equivalent to 379,000 euro from the companies - Red Sector, Logistica and Finanstroy.



Although she had paid 30% tax on the earnings to Russian authorities, Ms Quinn said she had never filled out any tax returns for the income.



"My understanding is it was deducted at source, the company was responsible," she said.



While she insisted she handed all important and relevant bank documents to the family's former solicitors Eversheds, Ms Quinn added she may have deleted emails of "substance and importance" while clearing out her inbox.



She deleted trivial emails and others with large attachments every three, four or five months because of capacity restrictions on her Hotmail account, she told the court.



The IT Tralee graduate, who also studied law, said she no longer had documents about a recently-opened Irish Nationwide bank account and an account she had at the Ulster Bank since a child "back in the Henry the Hippo days".



Despite earlier claims she never kept correspondence in a foreign language, Ms Quinn said she did store away statements connected to Quinn-owned Swedish-based companies in her "Swedish box".



She said she did not believe they were important but kept them because she did not have a shredding machine and was worried about the family's security at the time.



"Quite honestly, I was very conscious of our security at that stage," she said.



"I thought people were going through our bins at that stage."



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