Thursday 21 September 2017

'Never before have I seen such dishonesty and deviousness'

Sean Quinn Snr (right) and Judge Peter Kelly (left), who said the Quinn
family operated a scheme of 'mesmeric complexity'.
Sean Quinn Snr (right) and Judge Peter Kelly (left), who said the Quinn family operated a scheme of 'mesmeric complexity'.
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

A HIGH Court judge has lambasted Sean Quinn and his family for the "dishonesty and deviousness" with which they operated a scheme to squirrel away assets and "feather their own nest".

The net has tightened on the former richest family in Ireland.

Now Karen Woods, the newly wed wife of Sean Quinn Jnr, has been prevented from moving Quinn assets, with a temporary injunction taken against her yesterday.

Judge Peter Kelly appointed a receiver to a number of companies linked to the bankrupt billionaire, his adult children and some spouses, and extended an order freezing the assets of the family, with the exception of certain bank accounts, family homes and the future earnings of some of the Quinn siblings.

The new temporary injunction against Ms Woods was granted following concerns voiced by the former Anglo Irish Bank, now known as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), that Ms Woods had received an after-tax salary of €320,000 from Quinn's Russian companies since April last year.

Portfolio

Her husband, Sean Quinn Jnr, was jailed for three months last Friday for contempt of court after breaking court orders not to interfere with the family's €500m property portfolio.

Meanwhile, his cousin, Peter Darragh Quinn, former head of the family's international property group (IPG), also received a three-month jail sentence but is currently a fugitive from the Irish courts.

If the remaining Quinn family members do not comply with the judge's orders, the matter then enters the criminal law jurisdiction. The family would then have to face the limitless and open-ended powers of the courts and so could potentially be jailed for any period of time for contempt.

In a sternly worded comment, Judge Kelly told lawyers for the Quinn family that their clients' behaviour had been far removed from the concept of honour; one defendant had been sent to jail; and another is now a fugitive from justice.

There was also further evidence that one defendant had shown a "willingness to lie about his activities, even while under oath", he said.

The Quinns had chosen not to offer any "denial, refutation or explanation" and it had to be said that "all evidence before the court points in one direction", Judge Kelly warned.

Faced with all this, any court "worth its salt" would make such orders as it legitimately could if that would bring an end to "such wrongdoing".

The family had operated a scheme of "mesmeric complexity" on a "deliberate and pre-meditated basis" and the judge said it reeked of "dishonesty and sharp practice" and was designed to place assets out of the reach of the former Anglo-Irish bank and to "feather the Quinns' own nest".

He said that since taking the role of head of the commercial court since January 2004, he had dealt with "fraud on a national and international level, sharp practice, dishonesty and chicanery".

However, he added: "Never before have I seen such conduct on the scale demonstrated here nor with the deviousness with which this scheme has been operated."

And in a sharp warning, he noted that some people had the notion the courts were closed. "That notion is wrong -- the courts are not closed," he said.

Anyone with the "bright idea" of thinking that they had a licence to "behave with impunity" would be advised to think again, he added.

After hearing an application by IBRC to continue orders freezing assets of the family and appointing a receiver to a number of companies linked to them, Judge Kelly extended orders freezing the assets of the Quinn children and two sons-in-law, Stephen Kelly and Niall McPartland.

He also appointed receiver Declan Taite, of Farrell Grant Sparks, over the worldwide assets of various Quinn family members and over various foreign companies based in Belize, Panama, Russia and United Arab Emirates allegedly linked to the assets-stripping. The Quinns consented to those orders.

Earlier, counsel for IBRC Paul Gallagher expressed concern as to the whereabouts of the €2.8m paid to members of the Quinn family and their partners by Russian companies since last April.

Judge Kelly will hear applications on Tuesday on behalf of the Quinn children for living expenses.

They had previously been granted €2,000 each in weekly expenses. He will also hear an application by lawyers for fugitive Peter Darragh Quinn, who is no longer in contact with his legal team.

Judge Kelly advised Bill Shipsey, SC, for the Quinns, that he should send legal papers by the regular postal system to Peter Darragh Quinn at his last known address.

Irish Independent

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