Saturday 24 February 2018

IBRC steps up ability to electronically trawl for debtors' hidden assets

Sean Quinn
Sean Quinn
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) is planning to beef up its ability to investigate the hidden assets of debtors.

The former Anglo Irish Bank is seeking suppliers of eDiscovery and File Archiving services.

Though it sounds like an innocuous request for IT services, eDiscovery helps companies to rapidly search and sift through masses of electronic files for use as legal evidence.

IBRC has already blazed a trail in the area, seen most recently in its extensive use of digital evidence in support of its allegations that the family of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn moved hundreds of millions of euro worth of assets around the globe in a bid to put wealth out of the reach of the bank.

Earlier this month, the bank used such information recovered from a Russian computer as evidence at the Supreme Court.

Lawyers for the bank said the files contained employment contracts for members of the Quinn family entitling them to multi-million termination payments.

The bank said the existence of the contracts had previously been denied by the Quinns.

Emails retrieved from the same computer allegedly showed that Sean Quinn Jnr had ordered that money transfers by a Russian company had to be authorised by him.

Mr Quinn Jr is currently in jail on a contempt of court charge.

In addition to an increased capacity to uncover such evidence, the bank is looking for outside support to help sort through over 20 million electronic files it already holds.

All of the country's main lenders have stepped up their ability to trace the hidden assets of debtors since the financial crash.

Both IBRC and the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) have also made extensive use of private investigators in the hunt for wealth that may have been salted away by once wealthy property developers.

NAMA hired a panel of 10 private investigators for its worldwide search for hidden cash, but the value of the work has been questioned by the Comptroller and Auditor General, who said a pilot scheme had uncovered some wealth, but not enough to cover the cost of the search.

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