Monday 21 August 2017

Legal fees in Quinn case reach €16m

Massive costs rack up in hunt for overseas assets once owned by former billionaire and his family

Low profile: Sean Quinn
Low profile: Sean Quinn
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

The legal bill for hunting down the assets of the former billionaire Sean Quinn has reached €16m and counting, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

The costs were racked up over six years as the IBRC launched an international search for the Quinn family's €500m overseas property portfolio, according to informed sources.

The special liquidator of IBRC has secured all of the overseas assets bar eight sites in Russia and a €60m logistical warehouse in India that the Quinns say they do not own or control.

The costs associated with the Quinns are expected to keep mounting, with the ongoing legal battle for the outstanding assets. Sources say that the Russian sites are not worth the expensive legal action, while the legal battle for the control of the €60m warehouse in Hyderabad, India, is expected to continue for some time. The Quinns say they do not own it.

Lawyers' fees are just one aspect of the massive costs involved in the attempts to recover the Quinn assets. A Russian asset recovery agency retained by the liquidator to secure the most valuable properties has received €31m for its work. The firm, A1, owned by a Russian oligarch, is no longer working with the Special Liquidator.

The sale of the Kutuzoff Tower, the Univermag in the Ukraine, and Q Park logistical park in Kazan, were put on hold because of the political unrest in the area. Once worth $190m, their value has fallen to around $120m.

It emerged earlier this year that a group of local businessmen had donated sums of up to €300,000 into a Trust to cover the Quinns' legal bills. The High Court heard that the Trust had paid out €1.7m in fees.

After four years of High Court actions, and an impassioned local campaign to restore them to the family business, the Quinns are now maintaining a low profile and waiting for their massive €4bn legal action against the former Anglo Irish Bank to proceed.

Once Ireland's richest family, the Quinns were ousted from their empire by the former Anglo Irish Bank over Sean Quinn's fateful gamble on the bank's share price.

A group of former managers led by a local councillor, John McCartin, bought back the business from the receivers backed by American investors. The move was hailed as a victory for Sean Quinn, who rejoined his old company as a consultant. His relationship with the management soured spectacularly. A pig's head was left outside the home of a senior executive, in an apparent campaign of intimidation of the management team that Sean Quinn denounced.

He agreed to leave his €500,000 consultancy post last year and has kept a low profile since.

Attacks on Quinn Industrial Holdings have subsided and it recently posted a 62pc rise in profits in 2016 - to €6.8m - in the year that saw Sean Quinn leave the business for the second time.

At the time he left, Sean Quinn said a "pathway" had been left open for the family to return to the business. There was speculation that Sean Quinn's daughters, Colette and Aoife, or his nephew Peter Darragh Quinn, would step forward to work to restore relations with the new management.

However, the Sunday Independent understands that none of the family have availed of that "pathway".

Peter Darragh Quinn, who lives in Northern Ireland, remains the subject of an outstanding bench warrant for his arrest. The judge had ruled that he, along with his uncle and cousin Sean Jnr, were in contempt after they put international property beyond the reach of the bank. He is now believed to be working locally as a consultant. Sean Quinn's daughter, Ciara, is understood to have returned to nursing. Sean Quinn Junior put his luxury apartment in Farmleigh on the market earlier this year.

Sunday Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News