Decision to jail Sean Quinn Jnr ‘wrong in principle’, lawyers tell appeal
THE Supreme Court has been told it was "wrong in principle" to jail the son of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn "indefinitely" to put pressure on his father to reverse measures to put multi-million assets beyond the reach of the former Anglo Irish Bank.
Lawyers for Sean Quinn Junior also argued today he was wrongly jailed for failing to adhere to more than 30 coercive orders aimed at reversing asset stripping when only one of those orders related to the single finding of contempt of court made by the High Court against him on foot of which he was jailed last July.
There was also nothing in new evidence being advanced by the Bank to the Supreme Court to support the continued detention of Mr Quinn, said his counsel, Brian O'Moore SC. That evidence, counsel indicated, related to a DVD recording of a meeting in Kiev allegedly attended by Sean Quinn Jnr and matters related to Russian properties.
The sole finding of contempt against Mr Quinn arose from the High Court finding he facilitated a payment of $500,000 to the general director of Quinn Properties Ukraine around the time of the takeover of that company by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, formerly Anglo. The bank had advanced no purpose for the sanctioning of such a payment by the Quinns, counsel said.
Bill Shipsey SC, also for Mr Quinn, said the order jailing Mr Quinn arose from a finding of criminal contempt but he was also jailed for failing to comply with coercive orders that went "way beyond" the finding of contempt against him. A three-month sentence was imposed for the finding of contempt but it also appeared he was jailed indefinitely in a bid to secure compliance with the coercive orders.
Counsel were opening the appeal by Sean Quinn Jnr against a High Court finding of contempt of court orders and a decision jailing him for that contempt.
The appeal is being heard by a five-judge Supreme Court, presided over by the Chief Justice, Ms Justice Susan Denham, and is listed to run for two days.
Sean Quinn Jnr, who has been detained in the Training Unit of Mountjoy Prison since July 20 last, has been permitted attend the appeal and was in court today with his wife Karen Woods and brother in law, Niall McPartland.
Mike Aynlsey, chief executive of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, which is pursuing the Quinn family over loans of some €2.8bn, was also in court today.
Sean Quinn Jnr was jailed over what the High Court found was "outrageous" and "flagrant" contempt of court orders restraining the Quinn family putting property assets valued at up to €500m beyond the reach of the former Anglo Irish Bank.
In his appeal, he contends he was not in contempt of those orders of June and July 2011 and, even if he was in contempt, it was disproportionate to jail him in the context of the court's limited findings of contempt in his case.
Last June, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne made one finding of contempt against Sean Quinn Jnr - that he was involved in the alleged making of a US$500,000 payment from the accounts of Quinn Properties Ukraine to its general director around late August 2011.
The judge made additional findings of contempt against Sean Quinn Senior and his nephew, Peter Darragh Quinn.
She made the jailing orders on July 20 following her finding all three had failed to adequately comply with a series of coercive orders made by her aimed at unwinding the asset-stripping scheme.
The coercive orders were sought by IBRC which claims it is owed some €2.8 billion arising from unpaid loans made to various Quinn companies. The Quinns dispute liability for some €2.34bn of that sum.
In resisting the jailing orders, lawyers for the Quinns argued they had done all they could to comply with the coercive orders but several factors, including lack of co-operation from persons in Ukraine, Russia and elsewhere, had frustrated their efforts. They also argued the bank had refused various offers of co-operation from them.
Ms Justice Dunne found the efforts to comply were not adequate and indicated she was sending Sean Quinn Jnr and Peter Darragh Quinn to jail for three months but, if the coercive orders were still not complied with, they could remain there indefinitely. The formal court orders do not specify a definite period of imprisonment.
The judge said she would not jail Sean Quinn Snr at this stage because she wanted him to be available to assist IBRC in its efforts to protect the IPG assets.
When Peter Darragh Quinn did not turn up for the July 20 court hearing, a warrant was issued for his arrest but it remains unexecuted as he continues to live at his home across the border in Co Fermanagh.
Law firm Eversheds was permitted last August to cease representing the Quinns in circumstances where the family said they did not have the financial resources to pay for lawyers.
However, Eversheds secured permission to represent Sean Quinn Jnr in his Supreme Court appeal. He is also represented by the same team of counsel - Brian O'Moore SC, Bill Shipsey SC and Rory Mulcahy BL - in the appeal.