Sunday 21 January 2018

Bank heaps pressure on Quinn as it intensifies global trawl for assets

Dearbhail McDonald and Laura Noonan

THE global trawl to recover lucrative properties owned by the Quinn Group will intensify after its founder, Sean Quinn, was bankrupted by Anglo Irish Bank.

Yesterday, Mr Quinn conceded defeat and withdrew opposition to a bankruptcy petition filed by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), formerly Anglo Irish Bank, in Dublin.

Mr Quinn had previously petitioned the courts in Belfast for voluntary bankruptcy, but this was annulled last week after IBRC contested it.

Mr Quinn, who did not attend court for the brief hearing, will be barred from acting as a company director for up to 12 years, with legal experts predicting that, owing to Ireland's harsh bankruptcy regime, the bankruptcy could follow him "to the grave".

Ireland's former richest man, who had been ordered to repay €2.16bn to the IBRC, must now apply to a court official for permission should he ever wish to leave the country.

And he could see all or part of any income he earns in the future, including his pension, docked to repay his massive debts.

The Fermanagh-born businessman must declare any borrowings over €650 and will face a comprehensive asset trawl that could see transactions such as the transfer of shares or properties set aside by the courts.

Debtors in the UK can emerge from bankruptcy after just one year -- and this has prompted a wave of bankruptcies in England and the North by major Irish debtors such as developers Tom McFeely and John Fleming, as well as Glenkerrin Homes duo Ray and Danny Grehan.

Mr Quinn, who previously said he was planning to get back into business, will be entitled to trade in his own name, but will not be able to own or manage a company.

Yesterday, he said his Irish bankruptcy would ensure he "will never again create another job".

He repeated claims that the IBRC was pursuing a personal vendetta against him and said the taxpayers who now own the bank would have had been "significantly better off" if IBRC had taken a "more reasonable approach".

The State owned lender last night stressed that its "singular focus" was to recover as much as possible from the remaining assets over which the bank has legal security.

The IBRC is engaged in a series of lawsuits across the world to recover the assets of the Quinn Group.

Mr Quinn's wife Patricia and his five children have claimed that loans issued to the Quinn Group to fund shares in Anglo are "tainted with illegality".

That case is set to begin on February 2 or 3. At it, the Quinns will find out if they can claim that the lender was involved in deceiving the markets.

The bank, which is waiting on a critical ruling from Cyprus in a €500m international property row, has claimed the Quinn family was involved in a "conspiracy" aimed at putting the assets beyond the bank's reach.

If Mr Quinn's wife and five children fail in their February proceedings and can't pay debts they have personally guaranteed, they too could be subject to a bankruptcy procedure by the IBRC.

In April, the lender appointed a share receiver to take over the Quinn family's interest in Quinn Group, but is battling Mr Quinn's wife Patricia and five children in the Commercial Court in Dublin.

Irish Independent

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