Quinn's wife faces bankruptcy after order to pay €3m
Published 17/12/2011 | 05:00
SEAN Quinn's wife was last night facing the prospect of joining her husband in the bankruptcy courts after a High Court judge ordered her to repay more than €3m to Anglo Irish Bank.
The bank is likely to call in the debt within days and could ask the High Court to declare Mrs Quinn bankrupt if she fails to pay it. But the mother of five has a window of opportunity to follow her husband's example and apply for bankruptcy in the North, where she could be freed of her debts in just a year.
Mrs Quinn also has the option of asking the Supreme Court to overturn yesterday's judgment. A spokesman for the family last night declined to comment.
The 57-year-old, who has served as a director of more than 90 Quinn companies, had claimed she was a housewife and mother whose only financial role was managing household expenses.
She claimed she was unduly influenced by her husband Sean Quinn and signed documents given to her without reading them.
But High Court Judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly said that since the middle of the 18th century the law allowed for no presumption of undue influence between a wife and husband.
The judge said he accepted at face value Mrs Quinn's explanation of her role in the family home and her claim that she did not possess even a basic knowledge of business matters.
But he said Mrs Quinn "gave no thought to what she was signing" and such negligence disentitled her to make a claim of not understanding what she signed.
The judge also added that there was no evidence of undue influence, such as bullying behaviour, or evidence that Mrs Quinn was feeble-minded or mentally ill.
The massive debt order paves the way for Anglo, now named IBRC, to quiz Mrs Quinn about her assets if she fails to pay the debt. Mrs Quinn has not claimed an inability to repay and Anglo has no visibility of her wealth.
Last night the bank was considering all of its options in relation to Mrs Quinn -- including bankruptcy.
The bank cannot make any move against Mrs Quinn until it has given her a number of days to indicate whether she will pay the debt.
The judgment against Mrs Quinn comes ahead of a key legal challenge next Monday in the High Court in Belfast where Anglo will seek to overturn a bankruptcy application filed there by Mr Quinn.
The Irish Independent has learned that yesterday, minutes before the ruling on Mrs Quinn's loan, lawyers for Anglo asked another High Court judge to give it permission to serve a bankruptcy summons on Mr Quinn.
High Court Judge Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne granted Anglo liberty to serve the summons within two weeks.
The move will allow it to proceed immediately with bankruptcy in the Republic if the High Court in Belfast rules in favour of the bank.