Thursday 18 January 2018

Quinn bankruptcy: Belfast court agrees to bank appeal

Steven McCaffery, additonal reporting By Laura Noonan and Dearbhail McDonald

SEAN Quinn has been ordered to make himself available to appear in a Belfast court next month, in a bid by the former Anglo Irish Bank to overturn his bankruptcy claim.

Ireland's former Anglo-Irish bank, which says the 64-year-old owes around €2bn in the Irish Republic, will have its case heard on December 19 and 20.

The Northern Ireland court challenge by the lender, now rebranded Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, comes as legal proceedings are continuing in Dublin.

The court also ordered that Mr Quinn make himself available for the December hearing in case he is required to testify.

Mr Quinn voluntarily filed for bankruptcy in Belfast earlier this month, arguing he was resident in Co Fermanagh in Northern Ireland and his business was centred there.

Belfast's Chancery Court today heard that Mr Quinn has been ordered by Dublin's Commercial Court to pay €417m to the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IRBC)

But a decision on the outstanding claim of €1.6bn has been delayed.

IBRC had said it would challenge Mr Quinn's declaration of bankruptcy in the UK.

Today Mark Horner QC, representing the bank, told Judge Mr Justice Donal Deeny that the matter was one of "considerable urgency".

"It is absolutely critical this is dealt with as soon as possible," the lawyer told the court.

Paul McLaughlin, representing Mr Quinn, said time was required to compile information on how the former tycoon's business operated.

The judge said: "Perhaps we don't need a long history of the affairs of these companies."

Mr McLaughlin replied: "I think it is going to be unavoidable."

Mr Justice Deeny said the case would be heard on December 19-20 and said this should give sufficient time to the legal teams.

Meanwhile, Mr Quinn was yesterday hit with the largest judgment ever registered in an Irish court -- but his children are unlikely to face a similar action to hold them responsible for the family's €2.8bn debts until at least next year.

The High Court yesterday granted Anglo Irish Bank a judgment compelling bankrupt Mr Quinn to repay some €416m -- an amount that he admitted he owed the bailed-out bank.

Mr Quinn's children have also signed personal guarantees in relation to some of the family's borrowing. In a recent affidavit, Anglo executive Richard Woodhouse said there was a "strong possibility" the children could "soon be declared bankrupt".

The Irish Independent understands, however, that Anglo is unlikely to move for judgments against the children over the coming weeks, since their loans are already the subject of extensive litigation.

Those cases are expected to come before the courts early next year, with the children poised to argue that Anglo had no right to seize the Quinn Group from them since the bank's loans to the family are invalid.

The businessman's multibillion-euro empire collapsed over the last two years on the back of massive stock market gambles on the share price of Anglo.

At the time of his bankruptcy the IBRC said Mr Quinn and his family owed the Irish state €2.9bn euro and challenged his claim of UK residency.

Mr Quinn lost all control of his business in April.

Before his downfall, his story was a classic rags-to-riches tale.

He began his career with a £100 loan to dig gravel on his father's farm.

At the height of his success, the man dubbed "The Mighty Quinn" was worth a reputed €4.72bn.

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