Business Irish

Monday 11 December 2017

Quinlan kept up affluent lifestyle to 'avoid looking like distressed seller'

Shane Hickey in London

FINANCIER Derek Quinlan maintained his trademark style of a "successful investor" to present an image of affluence even when his finances were in the doldrums.

A right-hand man of the NAMA debtor yesterday told a court how he kept up his image to avoid being perceived as a distressed seller.

Mr Quinlan has faced criticism for appearing to maintain a wealthy lifestyle at a time when his debts to NAMA are valued at some €1.7bn.

"Mr Quinlan also took the view that to maximise the value of his various interests, it was vital that he did not look like a distressed seller," Gerry Murphy, a business associate, told London's High Court yesterday.

Mr Murphy was giving evidence on the latest day of developer Paddy McKillen's action against the billionaire Barclay brothers over their attempts to take over Coroin, the company which owns Claridges, the Connaught and the Berkeley hotels in London.

Mr McKillen claims Mr Quinlan's share in the business, sold by NAMA to the Barclays, should have been offered to him under a clause in the shareholders' agreement of the company.

The brothers have given Mr Quinlan a series of payments it has emerged, described as monies to help a friend in a time of need. The former tax inspector has repeatedly denied that these payments had anything to do with the decision to sell his shareholding.

Difficulties

Mr Murphy said he had tried to act as an "honest broker" between the different shareholders in Coroin as the company was facing difficulties.

He said Mr McKillen and two other shareholders had become antagonistic towards Mr Quinlan in October 2009 when there was substantial negative press around him.

"It appeared to me that they set out to be unhelpful to him and they showed little or no sympathy for Mr Quinlan's financial predicament," he said.

This continued into the future when Mr Quinlan was said to have been "marginalised and embarrassed" by his co-shareholders.

In the witness box, Mr Murphy said dealing with NAMA was occasionally very difficult. While Mr Quinlan had substantial deposits in an account in the former Anglo Irish Bank, Mr Murphy said he had to argue to have the funds released to pay salaries.

When Mr Quinlan changed his mind about a sale of the shares to a Qatari group, Mr McKillen is said to have reacted angrily.

In evidence earlier yesterday, Mr Quinlan said Mr McKillen had adopted an attitude of "anyone but the Barclay brothers" on the sale of the hotels.

He said he did not know how the amounts of money given to him by the Barclays were arrived at, nor did he know whether there would be any more forthcoming in the future.

Mr Quinlan repeatedly denied that the funds were received in exchange for his support of the Barclays.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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