Thursday 22 February 2018

Anglo Irish Bank investigator tried to trick Quinn fiancee, claims family

Karen Woods, wife of Sean Quinn Jnr, leaving the Four Courts.
Karen Woods, wife of Sean Quinn Jnr, leaving the Four Courts.

Mary Carolan

AN investigator acting for the former Anglo Irish Bank posed as a "government agent" when he contacted the then fiancee of Sean Quinn Jnr last year, asking detailed questions about her personal affairs, it has been claimed before the Commercial Court.

The "government agent" intimated to Karen Woods that she was under an obligation to answer his questions, Niall McPartland, son-in-law of Sean Quinn Snr, said in an affidavit.

Ms Woods married Sean Quinn Jnr earlier this year, before he was jailed for contempt of court orders restraining asset-stripping from Quinn companies.

The "agent" was Denis O'Sullivan of Risk Management International, who contacted Ms Woods in June 2011 when she was not involved in any litigation between the Quinns and Anglo, now Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), Mr McPartland said.

The claims were made as part of a challenge by family members of Sean Quinn Snr to the appointment of a receiver over their personal assets.

Mr Quinn's four daughters -- Ciara, Colette, Brenda and Aoife -- sons-in-law Stephen Kelly and Niall McPartland, and daughter-in-law Karen Woods, are bringing the challenge and representing themselves.

In his affidavit, Mr McPartland said Mr O'Sullivan told Ms Woods he was privy to a wide variety of information, including personal and financial information, about her and her wider family.

He refused to say how he had got that information and instead tried to get further private and personal information while holding himself out as a representative of a "Government agency", he added.

Ms Woods had "real concerns" about her safety and privacy and had considered reporting the matter to gardai but an agreement was reached between the Quinn family's then solicitors, Eversheds, and lawyers for IBRC that Mr O'Sullivan would never contact Ms Woods again, he said.

Within two weeks of Eversheds being permitted last August to cease representing the family, Mr O'Sullivan made numerous attempts over a 24-hour period to contact her on her personal mobile and work phones, said Mr McPartland. This was deeply concerning to Ms Woods due to her vulnerable situation with her husband jailed and her having no lawyers.

Ms Woods immediately contacted IBRC's solicitors, who apologised and told her Mr O'Sullivan was seeking to serve her with legal proceedings, he said. Alternative arrangements were made for service of the documents and a second agreement was reached that Mr O'Sullivan would not contact Ms Woods again.

Asset-stripping

Mr McPartland said Mr O'Sullivan also attended over three days at the offices in Madeira and Portugal of a company, Bazzely, he said. The company is at the centre of litigation by the Quinn family, aimed at avoiding liability for loans of €2.34bn to Quinn companies on the grounds that they were for the unlawful purpose of propping up Anglo's share price.

Mr O'Sullivan, he alleged, behaved aggressively in trying unsuccessfully to get information on Bazzely for Anglo.

Mr McPartland further alleged the bank had placed some or all of the Quinn family under surveillance since it took over Quinn companies in April 2011 -- but this was denied by Richard Woodhouse of IBRC.

In an affidavit, Mr Woodhouse said IBRC never arranged for surveillance of the Quinns but had retained investigators to trace assets which the family sought to put beyond the bank's reach. Some investigators may have made contact with family members, including Ms Woods, he said.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said he wanted to consider the factual and legal issues raised and would then give judgment at a later date.

Irish Independent

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