Friday 23 March 2018

Peter Darragh Quinn – a sportsman, a numbers man and a wanted man

Peter Darragh Quinn. Photo: Courtpix
Peter Darragh Quinn. Photo: Courtpix

Ed Carty

A sportsman, a numbers man and a wanted man.

Peter Darragh Quinn was well enough to sign an 11th-hour affidavit explaining why he was not "overly worried" about lying to a judge but within hours he was too ill for court.

The accountancy graduate, well used to travelling the world for the Quinn empire and its €500m International Property Group (IPG), found himself with a warrant out for his arrest.

Branded by Judge Elizabeth Dunne as "most untruthful" in her contempt ruling, he left a voicemail for a solicitor 15 minutes before sentencing for the offence.

Son of a former president of Ireland's largest sports organisation, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), five phone calls from Peter senior failed to raise him.

His highly regarded father is widely seen as the brains behind the redevelopment of the GAA's Croke Park stadium headquarters in the 1990s.

For a time it looked as though he was moving in his father's footsteps. Schooled in St Michael's, Enniskillen, and a member of Teemore Shamrocks GAA club near the border town of Ballyconnell, he excelled at Gaelic football and played at senior level for Co Fermanagh.

But it was in the wider family business empire where he found his feet.

His role as IPG general manager was to build and protect a portfolio of assets and development interests for the good of the Quinn children - his cousins Aoife, Ciara, Colette, Brenda and Sean junior.

"Just a job," he told a court, and not something to break the law over.

In an earlier lawsuit he admitted moving assets as Anglo, rebranded as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, began debt recovery.

But Peter Quinn has always maintained that he stopped the complex transfers when a High Court order was issued in June last year.

The IPG was the Quinns' equivalent of a trust fund. Money was pumped in to secure the family future with prized assets such as the Kutuzoff Tower in Moscow, the Leonardo office block and Univermag shopping centre in Kiev and an €80m property in Hyderabad in India.

Anglo's claim was that rather than manage the portfolio, Peter Quinn's task became asset stripping and hiding.

The network of shelf companies developed worldwide.

Senat Legal, part of the Senat Group, a legal, business and wealth management operation with offices in Liechtenstein, Austria and Dubai, bought offshore firms to take over the group.

Links to Panama, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates have also been identified, with the Moscow tower allegedly signed over to the Belize-registered Galfis, and there are questions over a €130m loan.

These assets were signed over as security for loans to allow Sean Quinn senior to chase his €2.8bn Anglo stock market losses. Loans the Quinns maintain were illegal.

Peter's management also saw him control the huge rents the developments took in - €27m in a year from the Russian investments alone.

The asset stripping allegedly took place as the Quinns accepted that they owe a debt of €455m to the former Anglo, while fighting the bank's claim to another €2.3bn.

In her finding of contempt, Judge Dunne said she was unimpressed with the Quinns' evidence.

On the nephew, she described him as evasive, less than forthright, obstructive, unco-operative and, at times, untruthful.

"He conveyed the impression of someone reluctant to be in court, to say as little as possible, and of someone who simply did not tell the whole truth," she said.

He would have said and done anything to keep assets away from the former Anglo, the judge ruled.

Whether that attitude survives with the threat of arrest and jail hanging over him remains to be seen.

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