Friday 15 November 2019

Local hero back after his failed gamble - don't bet against him

Background

Sean Quinn
Sean Quinn

Caroline Crawford

HE WAS once Ireland's richest man but Sean Quinn saw it all come crashing down as a result of his gambles on Anglo Irish bank - leaving him bankrupt and with a jail sentence under his belt.

As the one-time billionaire lost everything it seemed that the gamble had truly failed to pay off in dramatic style, however Mr Quinn's star is once again on the rise.

Now just three years later, the business tycoon, who was once worth €4.7bn complete with private jet, is to walk free of bankruptcy and back into his old company where he has been hired in a "consultancy" role.

He will be discharged officially from his debts of €1.2bn to the IBRC on Friday - three years to the day since he was declared broke, and claimed €300 to his name.

Mr Quinn (67) was declared bankrupt in early 2012 after he could not pay back the massive debts he accrued from his "financial gamble" buying up a 24pc stake in Anglo through Contracts for Difference.

Using CFDs meant Mr Quinn had borrowed to buy his shares, as they fell in value he was still on the hook for the loans.

The nationalised bank pursued him on behalf of the taxpayer and it saw the highest judgements ever made by an Irish court, made against Mr Quinn for sums of €417m and €1.7bn.

His massive and secretive bet on Anglo Irish Bank shares ended up destroying the fortune he had built up over decades. Before his disastrous gamble on the bank, he had been able to boast that each of his five adult children was a billionaire. He dramatically lost control of his multi-billion-euro industrial group back in 2011.

At the depth of it all he was bankrupted, pursued through the courts for loans of €2.8bn by Anglo and completed a nine-week jail sentence for contempt of court over a scheme that put the family's €500m international property empire beyond the bank's reach.

His son Sean Jnr was also forced to serve a prison sentence for contempt while his nephew Peter Darragh Quinn (pictured) remains a fugitive and faces immediate arrest if he returns to the Republic after fleeing the jurisdiction to avoid contempt proceedings.

But the businessman has now executed an astonishing turnaround, with his bankruptcy coming to an end and a return to his old empire.

The ex-tycoon benefited from the country's change in insolvency laws that cut the period of bankruptcy from 12 years to three.

He has now been retained as a paid advisor by Quinn Business Retention Company (QBRC) - a group led by business leaders in the border region.

The local consortium which includes three of his former senior managers and local businessman John McCartin, paid €90m to the Aventas Group for a substantial portion of Mr Quinn's old empire.

While he will advise the new owners he will not be a shareholder, senior executive or director of the new venture. Mr Quinn has now been ordered to pay back just €10,000 a year for the next two years.

The money will most likely go towards the pot for his creditors, mainly IBRC.

With his return to the empire he built, creating thousands of jobs in its heyday, ruling out Mr Quinn's eventual comeback would be a risky strategy.

Irish Independent

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