Sunday 23 November 2014

Who's that girl?

Karen Woods
Karen Woods

Hollywood couldn't have produced a better script: young middle-class woman meets and falls in love with the son of the richest man in the country.

She's a publican's daughter, he's the son of a businessman worth an estimated €5bn. He buys a trophy UK golf resort to add to his property portfolio, because he can.

Later, they move into a sumptuous apartment together. Life is exceptionally good.

By the time they marry, he's the son of a bankrupt former billionaire, the €5bn fortune has crumbled and the family is mired in endless litigation over massive amounts of money owed to the banks.

Even the trophy golf resort has to be sold off.

Within two months of their wedding, the young bride is left to start married life alone as her husband begins a three-month jail sentence for breaking a court order not to put overseas assets beyond the reach of a bank.

She becomes the most photo-graphed and talked-about woman in the country, her looks and clothes scrutinised as she visits him in jail looking very glamorous and expensively dressed for someone whose husband and in-laws are supposedly on their uppers.

Shortly after her new husband is jailed, it emerges in the High Court that she had been receiving a €320,000 salary from a Russian company in the Quinn family's IPG (International Property Group) since April 2011.

A court official is put in charge of all her assets. Her bank accounts are frozen and she is allowed only €2,895 a month -- this includes paying two mortgages in Dublin.

All of this by the age of 31.

She's probably too young to have watched TV series such as 'Dallas' or 'Dynasty' when she was a child, and to consider that her life now reads like a storyline from them.

She is Karen Woods, (she still goes by her maiden name) the good-looking young Castleknock woman who married 33-year-old Sean Quinn Jr in May, smack bang in the middle of a High Court case taken by IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, which claims the Quinn family owes it almost €2.8bn, including €2.3bn in loans, and €455m from its overseas property portfolio.

The Quinn family disputes that it owes the bank the €2.3bn loan figure.

The couple reportedly enjoyed an opulent wedding reception at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Wicklow, with Champagne flowing and a free bar tab for guests.

"Karen doesn't regret a thing," says a friend. "She went from going out with the son of Ireland's richest man to marrying the son of a man who's received the largest ever judgment order in an Irish court, but she was always going to marry Sean, no matter what happened.

"She had prepared herself for the possibility of him going to jail but, even so, she was shocked when it happened.

"He's halfway through his jail term now and she just wants him out so that they can begin married life, as they had hoped and planned for."

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