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Thursday 28 August 2014

Quinns 'had €300m in gold hidden in complex global web'

Informants revealed details on international fixers, court told

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

Published 31/05/2014 | 02:30

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A burnt out vandalised vehicle at Sean Quinn's (inset) Tarmac Plant in Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan earlier this year
A burnt out vandalised vehicle at Sean Quinn's (inset) Tarmac Plant in Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan earlier this year
Sean Quinn pictured leaving the Criminal Courts of Justice during the Anglo Irish Bank trial.
Sean Quinn pictured leaving the Criminal Courts of Justice during the Anglo Irish Bank trial.
Peter Darragh Quinn, nephew of Sean Quinn
Peter Darragh Quinn, nephew of Sean Quinn

SEAN Quinn's family bought €300m of gold offshore, two informants have told the former Anglo Irish Bank.

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The family also instructed a financial adviser to transfer €200m from a bank account in Dubai to the Virgin Islands, the pair claimed.

The informants, who are said to be at "substantial risk" because of ongoing attacks against the former Quinn Group and its staff, also told Anglo that the Quinns had enlisted a series of "agents" to help them put assets beyond the bank's reach.

The alleged agents include a "travelling fixer", a man of Indian/Pakistani origin who flies first-class, stays in five-star hotels and has access to large sums of cash.

A local businessman in Cavan is also alleged by the informants to have been the "secret cash dispenser" who "oiled the wheels" of the Quinns' "assets beyond reach" programme.

The informants' sensational claims were revealed hours after the US courts lifted a gagging order on the latest efforts by IBRC (formerly Anglo) to trace hundreds of millions worth of assets the bank claims were put beyond its reach by the family of the former billionaire.

Yesterday, lawyers for the Joint Special Liquidators (JSL) of IBRC told the High Court that the liquidators had struck a deal with the two informants.

The identities of the informants have not been disclosed to the Irish, UK or American courts and IBRC is not claiming that the risks to the informants comes from the Quinns personally.

The Irish Independent has learned that the informants, who will receive 3pc of any cash recovered on foot of their information, have not yet received any payments.

IBRC acted on the informants' claims after conducting due diligence on documentary evidence provided to the bank by the duo through their solicitor. The informants approached IBRC on February 7, 2013, hours after the Oireachtas voted to liquidate it.

Last February, IBRC secured secret orders in the Commercial Court in London against Investec Bank and one of its employees in relation to the alleged gold and money transfer claims.

The informants alleged that the Quinns instructed an employee of Investec to buy €300m of gold and that the transaction was conducted in Dubai/Fiji.

But Investec was unable to identify any transactions of the nature alleged by the informants and it transpired that the Investec employee had no connection with the Quinn family.

However, IBRC said that information obtained from internet giant Yahoo UK Ltd in respect of an email believed to be used by the Quinns' Russian contact tallied, in some respects, with the original documentation provided by the informants.

This tallying led the special liquidators to seek corresponding court orders last March in the US for orders against Yahoo Inc, AOL and mail.com.

On foot of those secret orders, the IBRC recorded email traffic between specific email addresses including a Russian 'Andrei' address.

The bank contends that a very large number of those emails are directly relevant to the alleged Quinn scheme.

The informants said that an email address recovered by the bank, nigel.smith@london.com was "an alias address used by the Quinn family".

In particular, it said that there were a large number of emails between the 'Andrei' email address and Michael Waechter, a Swiss-born financial guru who has repeatedly denied having connection with the alleged scheme and assets formerly owned by the Quinns in Russia.

The email traffic between June 2012 and February 2014 also included emails to an address used by Peter Darragh Quinn (left), Sean Quinn Snr's nephew and former head of their international property group.

The US gagging order and court seal expired at 5am yesterday.

And at 11am, unknown to the Quinns, IBRC presented the new information to the Commercial Court in Dublin.

High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly thanked Senior Counsel Paul Gallagher, for IBRC, for the update.

The Quinns, who insist they have disclosed all their assets as required by court orders, were completely unaware of the bank's international forays to secure new information.

Last night a Quinn spokesperson said that the family had disclosed all relevant assets.

IBRC told Judge Kelly that it hoped to get the actual content of many of the emails next week by way of the US courts.

The Quinns, whose assets have been frozen by court order – and cannot reduce their wealth below €50m – are due before the Commercial Court next week.

They are due in court as the receiver over their assets has been seeking explanations from members of Mr Quinn's family about transactions involving the movement of substantial sums between national and international accounts.

Irish Independent

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