Saturday 23 September 2017

Quinn: 'Every other prisoner felt I shouldn't be there'

Sean Quinn2...2/11/2012Sean Quinn arriving at the Four Courts yesterday(Fri) for a judgement in a High Court action.Pic: Collins Courts
Sean Quinn2...2/11/2012Sean Quinn arriving at the Four Courts yesterday(Fri) for a judgement in a High Court action.Pic: Collins Courts

David Young and Sarah Stack

BANKRUPT former tycoon Sean Quinn, who was released from prison today, has expressed fears of being sent back to jail.

The one-time billionaire walked free from the training unit in Mountjoy prison shortly after 9am to return to his family home in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, after serving a nine-week sentence for contempt of court.

In November, the 66-year-old was jailed for not purging his contempt in the High Court for his role in an asset-stripping plot.

Quinn is currently embroiled in a bitter legal wrangle with the former Anglo Irish Bank - now rebranded and nationalised as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).

The bank is pursuing the family for debts wracked up through a 2.8 billion euro failed share deal.

Last year, High Court judge Elizabeth Dunne ruled Quinn, his son Sean junior and his nephew Peter Darragh Quinn had attempted to put a multimillion-euro asset portfolio beyond the reach of the IBRC.

After his release, Quinn said a return to jail was possible if the "charade" being pursued against his family in the courts continued.

"Can we go back to jail? Yes we can," he said.

Ireland's one time richest man said the hardest thing about prison was the amount of time he was locked in his cell.

"I found it tough but when you come to 66 years of age I suppose you have been through many a thing over that period - I could fit into most environments and I fitted in," he told BBC Northern Ireland.

He added: "Of course when you find a door slamming at 9 o'clock at night, and you close for the night, it's not nice and it's not something I'm used to and it's not something I felt I deserved, but that's the world we're working in."

The former billionaire said his experience in Mountjoy made him feel lucky for the family and friends he has at home.

"I wouldn't call it frightening but it would certainly make you think," he said.

Quinn said he received a positive reaction from fellow prisoners.

"One hundred per cent of them felt I shouldn't be there, I certainly felt I shouldn't be there, after creating 7,000 jobs, after never in my life did I owe anyone a penny, never in my life did I steal a penny that didn't belong to me, I felt it was just wrong."

The tycoon was heavily critical of IBRC and those who had taken over the running of his administration hit empire.

But he insisted the family had not been defeated.

"The Quinns are not killed off," he said.

"The Quinns are still there."

During his sentence, Quinn was granted compassionate leave for three days to spend Christmas with his family, and returned to Mountjoy on December 27 to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Sean Quinn junior, who was also jailed for three months over the summer, has since offered to sell the penthouse apartment he shares with wife Karen on the outskirts of Dublin's Phoenix Park to demonstrate his willingness to purge contempt.

Peter Quinn, son of former GAA president Peter Quinn, was also sentenced for contempt but remains on the run after he fled to Northern Ireland.

The judge found the three Quinn men consciously defied and misled the courts as they shifted family assets as far afield as Ukraine, Russia and Belize.

She accused the three of engaging in complex and costly steps to put the assets of Quinn's international property group beyond Anglo in a blatant, dishonest and deceitful manner.

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