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Wednesday 16 August 2017

Firm with links to Quinn foils Anglo bid for mall

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

A COMPANY linked to bankrupt Sean Quinn and his children has thwarted Anglo Irish Bank's efforts to secure a $78m (€59m) shopping centre.

The Ukrania Shopping Centre, a landmark Soviet-era building, had been described as one of the jewels in the Quinn family's international property group (IPG). The bank was so desperate to secure the landmark site in Kiev that it even petitioned the Ukranian prime minister for help.

But it lost control of more than half of the value of the asset late on Thursday after a court in Kiev recognised a $45.2m (€34.3m) debt claim -- which had been lodged against the owners of the shopping centre by a mysterious British Virgin Islands company.

Anglo, now known as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), which is owed almost €3bn by the Quinns, last night said it had been the victim of a "raiding attack".

It said it has been stripped of asset because the debts of Univermag -- the Ukranian Company that owns the shopping centre -- were transferred to a Northern Irish company connected to the Quinn family.

The IBRC controls the majority shareholding in Univermag by way of a Swedish holding company, which sits on top of all the foreign properties owned by Mr Quinn's five children.

Shares in various companies above Univermag were pledged to the bank as collateral in exchange for the massive borrowings by the Quinn Group.

The bank has a direct mortgage over the shopping centre.

But it has emerged that Univermag's debts were transferred last October and November to Lyndhurst, a British Virgin Islands company, by Innishmore Consulting.

Innishmore is a Northern Irish company whose director and main shareholder is Peter Quinn, a nephew of Sean Quinn Snr, who was the head of the family's international property division.

The debts had previously been assigned (transferred) last April to Innishmore by Demesne Investments, a Northern Irish company where Sean Quinn was a director.

That transfer, from Demesne to Innishmore, took place weeks before the IBRC appointed a share receiver over the entire Quinn Group, leading to the resignation of all Quinn family members from any company in the complex conglomerate.

The blow to the IBRC, which has been engaged in a global race against time to secure up to €500m of the Quinn family's foreign property assets, came after the three judge Commercial Appeals Court in Kiev recognised, as valid, Lyndhurst's $45.2m claim.

The agreement between Innishmore and Lyndhurst gave Lyndhurst the right to the shopping centre's loans.

Now that Lyndhurst has been recognised as Univermag's biggest creditor, it is feared that Univermag could file for bankruptcy. This could place the shopping centre beyond the bank's reach entirely.

The IBRC fears that if Univermag is placed into insolvency, the shopping centre will be sold at a huge undervalue, depriving the bank of any chance of recovering its security.

The Lyndhurst claim was recognised by the Kiev courts last St Stephen's Day, but the ruling was immediately appealed by the IBRC -- which says that Lyndhurst unlawfully acquired the rights to Univermag's loans.

Peter Quinn also swore a statement in the Kiev courts claiming his signature on the debt assignment to Lyndhurst was forged.

But last Thursday the three-judge court recognised Lyndhurst's $45.2m claim, despite the forgery claims.

The Quinn family were not available for comment last night.

Irish Independent

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