Courts

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Sean Quinn family members have to give up personal information including computer passwords

Tim Healy

Published 09/11/2012|17:43

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FAMILY members of jailed bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn have been ordered to provide a receiver with personal data in a bid to get information related to their financial and tax affairs.

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It also emerged at the Commercial Court today there will be no application to have former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean Fitzpatrick or former Anglo executives Pat Whelan and Willie McAteer give evidence in the Quinn family's action disputing their liability for some €2.34bn loans advanced to Quinn companies.



Mr Justice Peter Kelly ruled that Declan Taite, appointed receiver last July over the personal assets of various Quinn family members at the request of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), is entitled to the passwords, computers, phones and other material relating to the Quinns' assets so as to elicit information dating from June 27, 2009.



That was the date proceedings were brought by IBRC, formerly Anglo, aimed at restraining stripping of assets worth up to US$430m from the Quinn family's international property group (IPG).



The receiver was entitled to the orders on grounds including admitted asset-stripping, findings of contempt against three members of the Quinn family and findings a "mesmerisingly complex" asset-stripping scheme continued after court orders were made, the judge said.



While the receiver had sought orders with no time limits, the judge said unlimited orders were not appropriate and the orders would not apply to material dated before June 27, 2009.

He was also building various protections into the orders so as to protect personal data of the Quinns, he said.



He refused an application by Niall McPartland, for the Quinns, to stay his order pending an appeal to the Supreme Court. Mr McPartland said he wanted to appeal on grounds his side's personal and constitutional rights to privacy were being breached.



Today's orders apply to the five Quinn children - Aoife, Brenda, Ciara, Colette and Sean Jnr; three of their spouses - Mr McPartland, Stephen Kelly and Karen Woods - and Peter Darragh Quinn, a nephew of Sean Quinn Snr.



They strongly opposed the receiver's application, saying much of the material on the devices related to personal communications, photos of family and friends, medical records and communications with Quinn company employees and the media.



After Aoife Quinn told the judge yesterday she was very concerned personal documents such as family photos and medical records would be available generally within the receiver's firm and that of his solicitors, the judge stressed the information must only be seen by the receiver and a named solicitor.



It would be wrong for such material to be "doing the rounds" and any application for others to see it must be made to the court, he stressed.



He noted undertakings by the receiver and IBRC to the effect only relevant information would be passed to IBRC to be used only in the bank's proceedings aimed at protecting the IPG assets. The Quinns had expressed concerns information could be passed to the bank which could assist its defence of their action.



The judge approved a protocol proposed by the receiver for obtaining and categorising information from the phones and computers. It involves material being downloaded in the presence of the Quinn defendants by a representative of a company hired by the receiver.



That material will then be categorised by the receiver into three categories - relevant and not privileged, irrelevant, and apparently privileged. Disputes over privilege issues will be decided by the court.



After delivering his ruling, the judge addressed preparatory issues for the forthcoming action by Mrs Patricia Quinn and her children denying liability for some €2.34bn loans made by Anglo to Quinn companies.



That action is fixed for hearing next April but the Quinns expressed concerns at indications from the bank that legal discovery of documents from various Quinn companies may take two months, which could potentially delay the hearing.



The judge noted criminal proceedings have been initiated against former Anglo executives Sean Fitzpatrick, Pat Whelan and Willie McAteer and asked was it proposed to call them to give evidence. If it was, he might have to notify the DPP to enable her address any issues which might arise, he said.



Aoife Quinn said her side had never met those parties and would not be calling them while Barry O'Donnell, for IBRC, said the bank did not propose to call them "unless the DPP takes a different view".

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