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Quinn freezing orders continued in High Court

A HIGH Court judge has further continued orders restraining the children of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn, a nephew, two sons in law and a number of international companies dealing with assets owned or controlled by them worldwide below €50m each.

The Quinn defendants will be allowed up to €8,000 for ordinary living expenses each, subject to approval by solicitors for the former Anglo Irish Bank and receipts being provided by them, until the injunction orders return to court on July 24th , Mr Justice Peter Kelly directed.

While he was not to be taken as accepting people normally need €2,000 weekly for living expenses, he would allow the €8,000 sum until July 24th as the sides had agreed it, the judge said. The defendants are also entitled to legal and perhaps some exceptional domestic expenses subject to formal approval by the court.

Bill Shipsey SC, for the defendants, had objected to the requirement the expenses must be vouched and said vouching had not been sought to date.

Mr Justice Kelly said he considered the bank's request for vouching reasonable in the circumstances, including the "very serious findings" of contempt of court orders restraining asset dissipation made against Sean Quinn Snr, his son Sean Jnr and his nephew Peter Darragh Quinn earlier this week by Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne.

He added he expected the bank's solicitors to be reasonable about approving expenses with "no nickel and diming".

The judge noted there may be an issue whether the three found in contempt of court can be heard on July 24th given the normal rule that persons found in contempt of court are not heard until their contempt is purged. That issue will be clarified when Ms Justice Dunne rules on the sanctions to be applied to the three on Friday.

Mr Justice Kelly also granted the bank's application to fast-track in the Commercial Court its action aimed at preventing dissipation of up to €500m assets in the Quinn family's international property group (IPG).

The case was "extremely urgent" because the bank had evidence showing breaches of the orders restraining dissipation of assets was continuing, Paul Gallagher SC, for Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, formerly Anglo, said. The bank had "great concerns" over what was happening to the assets.

Counsel also noted Ms Justice Dunne's findings against Sean Quinn Snr, his son Sean and nephew Peter Darragh Quinn, which included that the three had engaged in a "dishonest" and "deceitful" asset stripping scheme in contempt of court orders

Mr Shipsey said his side were not objecting to the case being fast-tracked but believed no further step should be taken beyond transfer until another High Court judge, Mr Justice Frank Clarke, ruled on the bank's application to discharge his order referring a jurisdictional issue to the European Court of Justice.

Mr Gallagher said the bank believed the case should proceed even if the referral to the ECJ continued as it would take years for the ECJ to decide the matter and this case was very urgent.

Mr Justice Kelly said, despite these proceedings been initiated a year ago, the delay in seeking to transfer them to the Commercial Court was explicable due to various matters and he would fast-track the case.

Even if the reference to the ECJ went ahead, and it appeared the whole basis for that had fallen with the dismissal of proceedings in Cyprus taken by the Quinns, this case should proceed urgently given Ms Justice Dunne's "powerful findings of wrongdoing" by some of the defendants and the bank's concerns over their continuing behaviour, the judge added

It made little sense not to have this case in the Commercial Court when its "mirrior image" - the case by Mrs Patricia Quinn and her children disputing liability for some €2.8bn loans made by Anglo to Quinn group companies - was already before the court, he added.

The judge noted a receiver had been appointed to one of the corprate defendants in the case, a Belize-based company, and was conducting an investigation into its affairs on whiich he will report to the courts in Belize and Ireland.

The judge made directions for exchange of legal documents in the proceedings and returned the case for further directions in October.

He fixed July 24th for the hearing of the bank's applicaiton to continue the freezing orders pending the full action.

The freezing orders apply to assets owned or controlled worldwide by the five Quinn children - Aoife, Ciara, Colette, Brenda and Sean Junior; Peter Darragh Quinn; two sons-in-law - Stephen Kelly and Niall McPartland, and several companies based in Belize, Panama, Russia and United Arab Emirates alleged to have cooperated with the Quinns in stripping assets.

The proceedings are by IBRC and Quinn Investments Sweden, one of the main holding companies in the IPG which was placed into bankruptcy on IBRC's application last July, plus the bankruptcy receiver. QIS was joined as a plaintiff on grounds the alleged scheme substantially deprived it of assets.