Business Irish

Saturday 24 March 2018

Quinns used 'deceptive' means to interfere with assets, claims Anglo

Laura Noonan and Tim Healy

BANKRUPT businessman Sean Quinn and his nephew Peter Quinn used "devious and deceptive means" to strip assets from the family's €500m international property portfolio, lawyers for former Anglo Irish Bank told the High Court yesterday.

The claims were made as the bank asked the court to find the duo, and Mr Quinn's son Sean Quinn Jnr, in contempt of court for allegedly breaching June and July orders banning them from "interfering with" the international property assets.

They claim the Quinns were involved in complex manoeuvres to reduce the value of the property empire by more than €100m so the assets could not be used by the bank to offset €2.8bn of debts owed by Quinn companies.

Yesterday marked the first day of the proceedings, which are being heard by Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne.

The courtroom was dominated by a large whiteboard showing the complex structure of what the bank calls the Quinns' International Property Group. Anglo's senior counsel Paul Gallagher outlined what he described as the "elaborate and labyrinthine" structure of companies the Quinns used to allegedly breach the orders. The Quinns, represented by Bill Shipsey, strenuously contest the accusation.

The court was told the Quinns used companies in Ireland, Belize, Russia, India, Cyprus, Ukraine, Sweden and the British Virgin Islands as part of their alleged strategy to deprive the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) of value it is entitled to.

Mr Gallagher described how a debt assigned to Russian holding company Finnasstroy had grown to an "enormous one" after the interest rate on the loan was doubled and backdated to June 2007.

This left the company, which IBRC now has control of, with a $100m liability to Belize-registered company Galfis that the debt was assigned to.

Mr Gallagher said IBRC had learned the assignments purportedly made in April 2011 to Galfis could not have been made then as it was a shelf company and said efforts to solicit more information from Sean Quinn Snr on the transfer had been unsuccessful.

The bank had written to him when they could find no record of the debt transfer at Demense, a Quinn Group company that previously held the debt.

Mr Quinn said he was "surprised" to have received the letter and told the bank that, in the context of legal proceedings involving his family, he "cannot recognise your entitlement to request any information from me".

The case continues today.

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