Thursday 18 January 2018

Administrators told to ignore Quinn family bids, SF TD claims


Laura Noonan

FINANCIAL Regulator Matthew Elderfield banned Quinn Insurance's administrators from considering any bids linked to the Quinn family or the insurer's senior management, a Sinn Fein TD claimed yesterday.

Speaking in the Dail yesterday, Caoimhghin O Caolain also cited a recording of one of the administrators telling the insurer's staff that the Quinn family would "never have any involvement whatsoever in this insurance company ever, ever again".

The politician is now calling for the imminent sale of Quinn Insurance to be suspended so there can be a full statutory inquiry into the deal to sell the insurer to Anglo Irish Bank and US insurer Liberty Mutual.

The dramatic claims came as the Dail heard submissions before a vote on legislation to create a €720m Insurance Compensation Fund that will deal with the fallout of Quinn Insurance's collapse.

Mr O Caolain told the house that he headed up a cross-party group that attended a meeting with Mr Elderfield and Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan on January 25 last.

"In response to a direct question . . . Mr Elderfield stated he had made it abundantly clear to the administrators and to all stakeholders, that there was to be no consideration given to any proposals whatsoever that involved Sean Quinn, his family or any of his senior management team," Mr O Caolain said.

"In other words, and contrary to normal procedure, the administrators had not a free hand."

Mr Elderfield was attending a conference in Korea yesterday and could not be reached for comment.

The Central Bank declined to comment in his absence, but it is understood that Central Bank records of the meeting differ materially from Mr O Caolain's recollection.

The records show that Mr Elderfield was asked whether he had received any proposal from the Quinn family around the insurance company.

He is recorded as having said he had not received any proposals.

The records also show Mr Elderfield mentioned that any individuals involved in a Quinn bid would have to meet the requirements of the Central Bank's new 'fitness and probity' regime.

Mr O'Caoláin also quoted from what he termed a "purported transcript" of comments by Quinn Insurance's joint administrator Michael McAteer, where Mr McAteer stated: "let me be categoric ... the Quinn family are gone".

"They will never have any involvement whatsoever in this insurance company ever, ever again. Now I've been saying that for months," he reportedly added.

It is understood that the comments were made on a conference call with Quinn Insurance employee representatives last December.

The administrators last night said they "strongly condemned" the "unauthorised recording" and said its leaking was "desinged, in their view, to destabilise the comapny and detract from the forthcoming sale of the business".

"The circumstances surrounding the unauthorised recording are being investigated," they added.

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