A COMPANY which says it bought property in India allegedly controlled by bankrupt billionaire Sean Quinn and members of his family wants the Commercial Court to rule that proceedings over the matter should be heard in India rather than Ireland.
Dubai-based Mecon FZE was given permission by Mr George Birmingham today to give short notice of its intention to apply to the court on Monday to be taken out of proceedings brought by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) against Quinn family members and several companies, including Mecon, over assets which the bank says are part of the Quinn international property group (IPG).
Mecon was one of several international companies over which freezing orders had been obtained earlier this year in Ireland as part of IRBC's efforts to recover multi-million euro assets linked to the Quinns, two of whom, Sean Quinn senior and junior, have already been jailed for contempt of court for failing to obey with orders preventing asset stripping from the family's international property group (IPG) so as to put them beyond the bank's reach.
IBRC is seeking orders that the Quinns and the various international companies hold property, and any funds transferred since April 14 last year, from a company called Mach Soft Tech Pvt Ltd (MST), as constructive trusts for the bank.
In Mecon's case, IBRC also seeks a declaration that the company (Mecon) had unlawfully participated in a share transfer and had conspired to transfer shares in MST at an undervalue as well as conspiring to wrongly convert or misappropriate shares in MST.
The bank also says Mecon conspired to put the shares beyond IBRC's reach or conspired to frustrate any order it (IBRC) obtains in Irish court proceedings.
It further sought a declaration that IBRC was entitled to trace the shares in MST or claim the value of the shares against the Quinns and the companies. It also sought an order that Mecon take steps to transfer the shares it holds in MST to the bank.
Today, Jarlath Ryan BL, for Mecon, told Mr Justice Birmingham the company was seeking to have the freezing order on its asset set aside because the matter was already being litigated in India. Mecon had bought the assets involved, property in Hyderabad, India, at "arm's lenght" from a complex entity controlled by the Quinn family, counsel said.
Despite the fact that the matter was being litigated in India, IBRC had joined his client in the proceedings here, he said.
The Indian courts are the most appropriate forum to deal with the matter given proceedings are already in being there, he said.
He had sought to have the application to have the freezing orders set aside at short notice so that the matter could be before next Monday's Commercial Court, otherwise it would be another week before this could happen, counsel said.
Mr Justice Birmingham said he would grant short service of the matter but that was no guarantee that it will be dealt with on Monday.
In an affidavit, Michael Waechter, on behalf of Mecon, said in December last year, an IBRC-appointed receiver for Quinn Logistics Sweden AB commenced proceedings in the Indian courts in the district of Rangareddy, Hyderabad. The case was brought against MST, a number of other companies and against a number of individuals including members of the Quinn family.
The receiver sought a number of orders in India similar to the orders being sought here.
MST is registered in India and carries on business there, he said. As the Indian case began first, and as there is a "significant overlap" between the proceedings in both jurisdictions, Mr Waechter said the suitable forum for litigation of the dispute is India.
The directors of MST and Mecon are resident in India, he added.