Saturday 24 March 2018

Anglo deal does not give power to lift bar on legal cases, says judge

Mary Carolan

THE legislation liquidating the former Anglo Irish Bank appears to give no power to the courts to lift a bar on all existing court proceedings against the bank, a judge has said

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said the new IBRC Act appears to give no power to the courts to lift the new statutory stay in the Act halting all existing proceedings against Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), formerly Anglo.

Mr Justice Kelly said the stay is "in absolute terms" and the Act also disapplied the court's discretion to lift it. There was "a very wide definition" of legal "proceedings" in the Act, he noted.

The judge stressed his comments were based on his reading of the IBRC Bill as he was unable to access the Act as passed on the Government website, despite it being apparently in force.

Included in the many existing proceedings against IBRC is the action by bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn's family alleging the former Anglo Irish Bank "shovelled" some €2.34bn loans into Quinn companies in 2008 to shore up the bank's plummeting share price.

That action is for mention before Mr Justice Kelly on Monday when the IBRC liquidator will be represented.

Counsel for the Quinns, Martini Hayden, indicated to the judge yesterday, when he was dealing with IBRC's own case against the Quinns, the family have concerns about the implications of the new Act.

Mr Hayden said his main difficulty in persuading the court the family's case can proceed is that the Act appeared "to sanitise" their claim Anglo had breached Section 60 of the Companies Act - which makes it unlawful for a company to advance loans to buy its own shares - in making the €2.34bn loans.

The Section 60 issue is also raised in the defence of various members of the Quinn family to IBRC action against them alleging they conspired with others to move property assets in the Quinn international property group beyond the bank's reach, counsel outlined.

The new Act raises "many areas of complexity" and drew a distinction between those being sued by the bank and those suing it.

It also provided for an immediate stay on proceedings against Anglo with no ability for the court to lift that stay and that raised issues for the security held by IBRC over Quinn properties. There would be "a lot of difficulties" arising from the legislation, counsel added.

Aillil O'Reilly, for IBRC, said, given the liquidation of the bank, he had no instructions concerning IBRC's motion in its case but expected the liquidator to have given instructions by early next week.

The aspect of the IBRC case before the judge yesterday was to fix a date for hearing oral submissions following the cross-examination over five days of the Quinn children and two of their spouses - Niall McPartland and Stephen Kelly - as to whether they have made full disclosure of their assets and involvement with IPG companies.

The judge said it was not unreasonable to adjourn that issue to next week when it was hoped the IBRC liquidators would have given instructions. Later yesterday, he was told the liquidator would be represented on Monday.

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