Monday 5 December 2016

Businessman describes 'shock' as his empire crumbled

Laura Noonan in Belfast

Published 21/12/2011 | 05:00

FOR a long time, almost nothing was known about Sean Quinn's personal life.

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But yesterday afternoon, the veil began to lift as Belfast courts examining his bankruptcy petition opened an affidavit, laying bare intimate details of the 65-year-old's home life and charting his personal feelings about Anglo's recent swoop on his business.

From it, we learnt that Mr Quinn and his family had "followed for many years" the practice of not answering the gates to their house to "anyone who has not made an appointment" -- presumably for security and privacy reasons.

We also learnt that "almost every aspect" of the "private and domestic expenditure" of Mr Quinn, his wife and five children was "administered through Quinn Group or paid for by Quinn companies with accounting adjustment".

"Everything from cars, clothing, travel, food, utility bills and other daily expenditure has been either purchased or administered through the companies," Mr Quinn added, describing Quinn Group's Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, headquarters as a place he was "synonymous" with.

Describing the takeover of the Quinn Group, Mr Quinn said he spent "most" of his time "in a state of shock" -- though Anglo executive Richard Woodhouse yesterday told the court the takeover could "hardly have come as a surprise" given the lengthy and unsuccessful efforts to resolve Mr Quinn's debts.

Control

After Anglo "exiled" him from the Quinn Group on April 14, Mr Quinn claims he "kept waiting for the bank or receiver to make contact", and he even felt that the bank might "negotiate a deal" that would allow him to "resume control" or "at least recommence work".

"During this period, I did very little," he says. "I was at home a lot."

In early May, he decided to take a small office in Derrylin from a friend -- an arrangement that Anglo is now querying since Mr Quinn did not reference the office's lease in his bankruptcy application.

Mr Quinn said he now worked at that office "most days" with secretarial support from his landlord.

"Obviously I have not been as busy as I was previously," he said, adding that he mainly dealt with correspondence and legal affairs.

He is also considering the maintenance work on a 166-acre forest that him and his wife lease to his children, noting "clearly I am in no position to pay for this work... It will be paid for by my children".

He said he found it hard to live so close to the old empire he had to drive past almost every day.

"It is very difficult to accept that I no longer own or control the business I have spent my lifetime building up," he said.

Speaking after yesterday's hearing, Mr Quinn said it was a "bit of a joke" for Anglo to be fighting so hard to move his bankruptcy south of the Border.

"Wherever I'm bankrupt, I have no money," he said. "And the bank knows that."

Irish Independent

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