Saturday 20 January 2018

High Court told that Sean Quinn showed a willingness ‘to pervert the course of justice’

BANKRUPT businessman Sean Quinn and members of his family had engaged in fraudulent conduct and shown a willingness to pervert the course of justice and use a number of courts for their own purposes, the High Court was told today.

The Quinns were determined to put assets beyond the reach of Anglo Irish Bank and saw no disctinction between assets in various companies and their own, Paul Gallagher SC, for the bank - now Irish Bank Resolution Corporation - argued.

This "wholesale dissipation of assets" was for the avowed purpose of ensuring, if the bank won its case aimed at recovering monies from those assets, there woiuld be"nothing" there for it.

Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne today reserved judgment on claims Mr Quinn, his son Sean and nephew Peter Darrgh Quinn breached court orders restraining them putting assets beyond the reach of IBRC. She indicated judgment would not be delivered until the next court term, which begins on June 6th.

In his final closing reply for the bank, Mr Gallagher argued that "extraordinary", "misleading", "inaccurate", "bizarre", and "untrue"statements had been made to the Irish courts and to courts abroad on behalf of the Quinn family in proceedings related to alleged stripping of assets in the Quinn international property group (IPG), including valuable properties in Russia and Ukraine.

The Quinns had also failed to provide any explanation for requests made to an international law firm for the establishment of eight off-shore companies, he said. The existence of that firm had also only emerged accidentally in the court proceedings, he added.

The court, he added, was being asked to believe one of those off-shore companies was sought for a Ukranian man, Yaroslav Gurnyak, a former railway worker who couldn't speak English and had no qualifications but to whom, according to the family, valuable debts were allegedly transferred

The only explanation put up by the Quinns for transfers of valable assets for nothing, or for nominal sums, to parties apparently unconnected to the family was that the objective was to get the assets away from Anglo Irish Bank and nothing else mattered, he said. That explanation had "no credibility".

Today was the final day of the hearing of the bank's application for orders for attachment, and if necessary committal to prison of Sean Quinn, his son Sean and his nephew Peter.

The bank claims the three acted in contempt of court orders of June and July 2011 restraining them placing assets in the Quinn IPG beyond the bank's reach. The respondents deny contempt and say, while there was a plan to prevent the bank moving against assets, no steps in furtherance of that were taken after the orders were made.

The restraint orders were made in proceedings where the bank sought to prevent assets in the IPG, valued at up to €500m and over which the bank claims it has securities, being put beyond its reach.

In separate proceedings, Mrs Patricia Quinn and her five adult children, who have owned the Quinn companies since 2002, claim they are not liable for loans of some €2.34 billion made by Anglo to Quinn companies because those loans were unlawfully made to prop up the bank's share price.

In the contempt proceedings, the bank claims contempt by Sean Quinn Senior and Peter Quinn via their alleged involvement in the alleged assigment of about US$130m worth of loans to a Belize entity for nominal consideration on or after July 20th 2011 and in back-dating those loans to April 2011.

It is also alleged the two were involved in a fraudulent assigment on or after July 6th 2011 of a €45.2m debt to a Northern Ireland company, Innishmore, controlled by Peter Darragh Quinn, with a view to taking control of a Ukranian property asset worth about US$78m. A Northern Ireland court recently declared that assignment was invalid, the court heard yesterday..

All three respondents are also alleged to have been involved in late August 2011 in a process leading to a US$500,000 payment being made out of the accounts of Quinn Properties Ukraine to its general director, Ms Janis Puga. That money remains frozen.

The bank has rejected the claim no steps were taken after the orders and has alleged there was back-dating of documents in an effort to support the claims of no breach.

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