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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Sean Quinn in terrifying Good Friday death threat

Bankrupt tycoon is escorted from bar after detectives uncover chilling plot

RONALD QUINLAN and MAEVE SHEEHAN

Published 06/07/2014 | 02:30

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Sean Quinn Snr. Picture: GERRY MOONEY
Sean Quinn Snr. Picture: GERRY MOONEY
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THE bankrupt tycoon, Sean Quinn, had to hurriedly leave a Good Friday reception after gardai uncovered a threat to kill him, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

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Mr Quinn was socialising in his native Derrylin, in Fermanagh, at the start of the Easter bank holiday weekend when gardai learnt that a death threat had been issued against him.

They immediately made contact with Mr Quinn, urging him to return to his family home across the border in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan.

Once he got there, he was by briefed by detectives who informed him that Garda headquarters had received intelligence about a "credible" threat on his life from an unknown source.

Mr Quinn was asked to sign a form agreeing that he had been notified of the death threat. Senior detectives then advised him on measures he should take to increase his security, according to informed sources. It is understood Mr Quinn - formerly Ireland's richest man - is not currently under Garda protection.

The Quinn family refused to confirm or deny the threat on Mr Quinn's life when contacted by the Sunday Independent this weekend.

A family source said: "We are making absolutely no comment."

However security sources confirmed that gardai are investigating the death threat.

A senior garda source said it is not clear who is behind the threat, but the suspects include dissident republicans.

"Given the nature of the intelligence gathered and the profile of the potential suspects, there was no question that the gardai had to act immediately. It was made very clear to Mr Quinn that he needed to return to his home urgently," a source close to the investigation told the Sunday Independent.

The threat is believed to have emanated from Dublin, as it first came to the attention of Garda headquarters on Good Friday. The intelligence was immediately passed to gardai in Cavan, who tracked Mr Quinn down to Derrylin.

The death threat issued against Sean Quinn is a new departure in the pattern of violence and intimidation that has dogged his companies since he was ousted from his empire by the former Anglo Irish Bank in 2011. The bank is pursuing the Quinn family for a disputed debt of €2.3bn.

Up until now, the threats have been directed at the new owners of his empire, Aventas, and those who conduct business with it. It is likely the gardai will investigate whether the threat on Mr Quinn's life and those attacks are connected.

Aventas has logged almost 70 incidents of arson, sabotage, intimidation including death threats against senior executives since Mr Quinn was ousted from his business empire in 2011.

In March - a month before the death threat against Sean Quinn surfaced - a businessman in negotiations to buy one of Mr Quinn's former companies received a death threat in the post on the same day that his wife died.

The letter warned Kevin Lagan, chairman of the Belfast-based Lagan Group, that if the sale went ahead, the buyers "would not live to see the benefits" of it.

A convicted criminal is one of the suspects who is currently under investigation for orchestrating a campaign of intimidation against Quinn companies.

He has links to both dissident republicans and the IRA and has returned to the border counties after his recent release from prison.

Mr Quinn has publicly denounced the intimidation campaign, saying that it is not carried out in his name.

The former billionaire claimed in an interview on Newstalk radio last week that his family is the "most hated" in Ireland as a result of the former Anglo Irish Bank's pursuit of the family.

"[IBRC] are using our money to beat us up and put us in prison and make us the most hated family in Ireland," he told Pat Kenny.

Mr Quinn said his family had worked for 40 years to generate the assets behind his former business empire before they had been taken "illegally" from them.

"They go and take these off us, illegally in my view, and use our money to fight us," he said.

He added: "They are saying we hid their assets or took their assets, the simple facts are that they were always our assets. They never belonged to Anglo Irish Bank, Anglo Irish Bank had no claim on these assets.

"Anglo Irish Bank are taking the rent so as far as I'm concerned Anglo Irish Bank are handling stolen goods, so they are using stolen goods to finance the case against us."

Sean Quinn was declared bankrupt two years ago, while his children are fighting a mammoth legal battle with IBRC over the disputed €2.3bn debt.

The bank has accused the Quinn family of hiding its assets. Last month, the Quinn children filed a €4.5bn legal action against the Minister for Finance, the Central Bank and former Anglo directors, accusing them of conspiracy to loan money to the Quinns.

Sunday Independent

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