Business Irish

Saturday 18 November 2017

Quinn family make court application to retain access to living expenses

Sean Quinn Photo: Gerry Mooney
Sean Quinn Photo: Gerry Mooney

Tim Healy

RECEIVERS appointed over the assets of members of businessman Sean Quinn's family say their living expenses should no longer be paid from accounts frozen four years ago.

That is because most of the family members concerned are now working for a company run by two of their cousins while one member, Ciara Quinn, works as an agency nurse, the receivers claim. Mr Quinn senior was at the time a director of that same company, it is claimed.

The Quinns claim an application to the High Court by receivers to stop them getting any further living expenses from frozen accounts is an attempt to punish them when the only purpose of freezing orders is to prevent the dissipation of assets pending trial. Mr Justice Brian McGovern reserved judgment on the application by the receivers, Declan Taite and Sharon Barrett, who were appointed in 2012 by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) over assets linked to Quinn companies.

The freezing order was obtained as part of the long-running proceedings alleging the Quinns and others were involved in a conspiracy to strip some €500m assets from Quinn companies to put them beyond the reach of IBRC which is owed €455m in loans given by the former Anglo Irish Bank.

The IBRC action was initiated in 2011 but, as a result of various criminal proceedings involving former Anglo personnel, is unlikely to he heard until 2018.

Andrew Fitzpatrick BL, for the receivers, said the purpose of the 2012 order freezing the accounts was to preserve assets pending hearing of the IBRC proceedings.

The court later varied that order to allow for the payment of living expenses to the relevant Quinn family members, he said. They were later still allowed to set up personal accounts into which compensation payments for their dismissals from Quinn companies were paid and these accounts were excluded from the receivers' control.

However, since then, there had been fundamental changes to that situation because last year most of the relevant family members took up employment with a company called SMC Products, with the exception of Ciara. The salaries from that company were paid into the frozen accounts.

Mr Fitzpatrick's clients now want the expenses to be paid from the SMC salaries, and the Quinns should apply to the court for that, but not also from the personal accounts which are excluded from the payment of monthly expenses. There were "significant balances" in these excluded personal accounts, he said. Alternatively, the personal accounts would remain outside the receivers' control but the expenses would be paid from those accounts.

If there was a shortfall, they could apply to the receiver to get more money from the frozen accounts. Mr Fitzpatrick said "neither of those options were accepted" by the Quinns.

Ross Aylward BL, for the Quinns, says the receivers' application was fundamentally flawed and was an attempt to change a structure already put in place by the court. Freezing orders are meant to be preventative, not punitive, he said.

This was an attempt to prevent the Quinns from getting on with their lives in circumstances where they are not responsible for it taking so long for the main case to be heard, he said.

Certain payments to Colette and Brenda Quinn had previously been excluded from the freezing orders because it was recognised these had nothing to do with the dispute between IBRC and the Quinns.

Karen Woods, wife of Sean Quinn junior, had also had a shareholding in a company excluded.

Members of the Quinn family had growing families of their own and to prevent them from getting on with their lives was punitive, counsel said.

Irish Independent

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