Wednesday 21 August 2019

Sean Quinn says he wasn't told insurer had pledged assets

'Now I can go for a pint' says former billionaire after giving testimony to public inquiry into collapse of insurance group

Sean Quinn leaving the inquiry in Dublin yesterday. Photo courtesy RTÉ
Sean Quinn leaving the inquiry in Dublin yesterday. Photo courtesy RTÉ

David Chance

The one-time billionaire head of Quinn Group said he had not been made aware of loan agreements entered into by subsidiaries of the insurance arm before its collapse.

Sean Quinn ended a morning of testimony at the public inquiry into the 2010 collapse of Quinn Insurance Limited (QIL) yesterday saying: "Now I can go for a pint".

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Earlier, Mr Quinn said he relied on his executives to manage administrations, including loans, as he had to run a large business and focused on profits.

"I started the business in 1973, finished school at 15, didn't have very much education," he told the inquiry. He said the business had been built up "bit by bit, week by week, month by month, year by year".

The inquiry was set up to investigate the collapse of QIL in 2010.

The inquiry heard that two executives, Liam McCaffrey and Kevin Lunney, signed off on board meetings that likely never occurred, were not notified to other directors and did not have full quorums of directors when assets of the insurance company's subsidiaries were pledged as collateral against loans.

These assets were supposed to be part of the regulatory capital of Quinn Insurance, whose collapse means that all policyholders pay a 2pc levy on non-life insurance products to meet liabilities that were taken on by the Government.

"Resolutions of boards were communicated to the outside world as if they were resolutions of boards under circumstances where they weren't passed at properly convened board meetings and in fact even those who were directors were never told that the board meetings were intended to take place," Senior Counsel Eoin McCullough told the inquiry.

Mr Quinn said he believed the assets in question were not part of the loan guarantee. He said he first learned that they were, when the insurance company collapsed.

"That's my understanding of it; that Quinn Direct and anything belonging to it could not be taken as security," he said.

The main focus of Mr Quinn's own work was the manufacturing business of the Quinn Group, he said.

"We had a lot of stuff going on at the time, In manufacturing we had maybe 20 manufacturing plants... I was the only director responsible for manufacturing.

"I thought that was a big enough job to do," he said.

As a result, Mr Quinn said he would scan pages of documents presented to him, and trusted senior company officials like Mr McCaffrey and Mr Lunney.

"Why would I read it if I trusted the men?" he said.

"The documents were just put in front of me and I signed them."

Irish Independent

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