Thursday 25 December 2014

Quinn family action over €2.34bln Anglo loans to be heard in 2015

Tim Healy

Published 19/05/2014 | 16:21

Sean Quinn
Sean Quinn

The DPP has cleared the way for the full hearing next year of the action by bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn's family denying liability for some €2.34bn loans advanced by the former Anglo Irish Banks to Quinn companies.

At the request of the DPP, the Commercial Court action by Mrs Patricia Quinn and her five children had been parked pending the hearing of criminal proceedings against three former Anglo executives.

Following the conclusion of the criminal case last month, and the DPP's consent to the stay being lifted, Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday directed the Quinns' case could begin on April 13 next year (2015).

The case is against Anglo's successor, Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), and its special liquidator Kieran Wallace.  IBRC previously secured orders joining Sean Quinn and two former senior Quinn Group executives, Dara O'Reilly and Liam McCaffrey as notice parties.

Zartin Hayden SC, for the family, said his side intends to apply shortly to have the Commercial Court fast-track their separate action brought against the Central Bank, in its capacity as financial regulator; Department of Finance; and several former Anglo executives over the making of the loans.

The Quinns filed that action last year after studying some 250 hours of transcripts of phone conversations dating from 2007 between Anglo, the Department and Central Bank concerning matters arising from Sean Quinn's building up a stake in the bank to 29.4 per cent.

The family's main action against IBRC was initiated in May 2011 and the Commercial Court has dealt with dozens of pre-trial applications since.

Today, Mr Justice Kelly was told the DPP was not objecting to the lifting of the stay on those proceedings.

In those circumstances, the judge approved a timetable for discovery and exchange of legal documents which has been agreed between the sides prior to the hearing on April 13th next.

The case itself is expected to last between six and nine months with the ultimate costs of the marathon litigation expected to be tens of millions of Euro.

In their proceedings, the Quinns deny liability for some €2.3bln of total loans of about €2.8bln which they claim were given illegally by the bank to prop up its share price.

The bank's own action alleging a conspiracy by the Quinn defendants and others to strip assets valued at up to €455m in the Quinn's international property group was initiated in June 2011 but was also stayed at the request of the DPP due to the criminal proceedings involving the former Anglo executives. The legal costs of that case to date are conservatively estimated at well over €15m. 

The Quinns claim loans of about €54m were made to IPG companies of which, they allege, only €9.2m relates to companies involved in the conspiracy case. They claim the rest of the €445m sum is not relevant to the conspiracy case. 

A full hearing date for the conspiracy action has yet to be set but there have been more than 40 pre-trial applications here, including for orders freezing accounts of several family members and contempt proceedings resulting in the jailing of Sean Quinn and his son Sean Junior.  The case has also involved applications in other courts worldwide, including Russia and Cyprus.

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