Wednesday 21 March 2018

'I miss Ireland every day,' says financier Quinlan

Derek Quinlan arrives at Leinster House yesterday
Derek Quinlan arrives at Leinster House yesterday

Clodagh Sheehy

Financier Derek Quinlan says he finds it "painful" to have to live away from Ireland, and it is one of his biggest regrets about the economic crash.

The former tax inspector whose company Quinlan Private was once worth about €10bn, said he was deeply saddened by the fallout from the banking crisis and its "unprecedented and devastating" impact on people. But he added: "I too have lost substantially."

Mr Quinlan confessed to the Banking Inquiry how he bought into the "feelgood factor" and had not seen the crash coming.

He said he genuinely did not believe that the market was "in danger of collapse" at the time.

Mr Quinlan also told the committee he had not realised that Irish banks were giving long-term loans based on short-term funds for themselves.

"If I had known this at the time, I would not have invested in Irish property," he said.

Mr Quinlan, who was one of the highest fliers of the Celtic Tiger, said he was a big believer in the idea of Ireland Inc.

The financier stressed to the committee that he had never lobbied a politician "ever, and that includes Brian Cowen".

His biggest regret was not living in Ireland. He had moved to Switzerland in 2009 on the advice of KMPG to "maximise the returns to my creditor banks". He later moved to London.

"I miss Ireland every day," he said. "[Moving away] was very, very painful. I was 61 at the time with a very young family," he told Senator Marc MacSharry.

He has an ongoing private commercial relationship with Nama but "due to the nature of this relationship, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to comment on the institution at this time".

Irish Independent

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