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Judge gives Quinn executive alert on self-incrimination

A SWEDISH judge has cautioned a senior executive who served with the Quinn Group not to answer any questions in court "if he has committed a criminal offence".

Yesterday, in Stockholm, a bankruptcy judge intervened during the cross examination of Dara O'Reilly -- the former group finance director of Quinn in the Republic of Ireland -- to remind him and both legal teams present of Mr O'Reilly's privilege against self -incrimination.

Mr O'Reilly was testifying during an application by Anglo Irish Bank to wind down Quinn Investments Sweden (QIS), which holds the Quinn family's properties in Sweden, Britain, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and India. QIS is fighting the bankruptcy move and insists that the Quinn Group's exposure to Anglo is limited to €129m rather than the €2.8bn the bank says the group owes as a a result of buying bank shares via contracts for difference (CFD).

A CFD is a contract which enables investors to buy or sell shares and other commodities by taking long or short positions, leading to gains if the share price increases but demands for margin calls if they depreciate in value.

The Quinn family built up a 24pc stake in Anglo but faced an onslaught of margin calls from late 2007 as the bank's share price tanked before it was taken under state control.

The family claims the loans were "illegally" advanced to them to shore up the bank's share price. Yesterday, Mr O'Reilly told the court that from September 2007 Anglo lent money to the group to fund the margin calls and knew that the purpose of the loans were to support the margin calls. He explained that he had a role to liaise with the manager in Anglo regarding the transfer of funds to the Quinn Group as it faced increased margin calls.

He said that the loans were used either to fund the margin calls or to pay inter-group loans.

When asked by Anglo's lawyers if he [Mr O'Reilly] signed loan documents or company accounts that were false in light of the stated purpose of the loans, the presiding judge intervened:

"He doesn't have to answer any question if he has committed a criminal offence," said the judge. The case has been adjourned until Tuesday next.

Irish Independent