Saturday 22 July 2017

Some members of Sean Quinn’s family may be called to give evidence in Anglo Irish Bank trials

Tim Healy

SOME members of the family of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn may be called to give evidence for the prosecution in the criminal trials of former Anglo Irish Bank executives, the Commercial Court heard.

Former Anglo chairman Sean Fitzpatrick, former finance director Willie McAteer, and former managing director of the bank in Ireland Pat Whelan are awaiting trial in the Circuit Criminal Court on charges of providing unlawful financial assistance to 16 individuals in July 2008.

As it appears some of the Quinns "are in fact witnesses for the prosecution", they are unlikely to oppose an application by the DPP to defer their own action against the bank pending the outcome of those criminal proceedings, Martin Hayden SC, for the Quinns, told Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

It also emerged today about 250 hours of transcripts of phone conversations dating from 2007 between Anglo, the Department of Finance and the Central Bank (as regulator of Anglo) concerning matters arising from Sean Quinn's building up a stake in the bank to 29.4pc have been discovered by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (formerly Anglo) for the family's action.

Those transcripts and other documents were provided by IBRC to the Quinn's new lawyers in late November for the purposes of a possible application by the family to have the Central Bank and Department joined as co-defendants in their case.

Mr Hayden said it had only became obvious from the transcripts the "level of interaction" between the Department, Central Bank and Anglo.

His side was "firmly of the view" there were grounds for joining the Department and Central Bank but needed another four weeks to properly review the material.

In their action, the family contend they are not liable for loans of €2.34bn advanced to Quinn companies by Anglo on grounds those loans were unlawful.

Their case was provisionally fixed for hearing on April 9 but is now almost certain not to proceed then in light of the criminal proceedings and the possible application to join the Central Bank and Department.

When the case was mentioned, Mr Hayden sought four weeks to consider whether to join those parties.

Paul Gallagher SC, for IBRC, said the situation was "most unsatisfactory" as the case was in being since 2011 and the Quinns had clearly not yet decided whether to make the joinder application. Any adjournment should be less than four weeks, he said.

Mr Hayden said he was surprised by IBRC's attitude as IBRC had in December secured a month long adjournment of its cross-examination of some of his clients but, when his side wanted a month to examine material discovered in late November, it opposed that.

Mr Justice Kelly said he would grant the four weeks sought but there "must be certainty" about the joinder application when the matter returned to court on February 11th. Any such joinder would "change the whole landscape" and "recast" the family's case, he previously said.

The DPP's application to stay the family's action will come before the judge on January 29 and now appears likely to be unopposed. The DPP wrote to the bank last month saying she believed the family's action raised issues overlapping with issues in criminal proceedings (against Mr Fitzpatrick, Mr McAteer and Mr Whelan).

The overlapping issues relate to alleged breaches of Section 60 of the Companies Act prohibiting a company advancing financial assistance to buy its own shares, the court heard.

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