Sunday 26 January 2020

Peter Darragh Quinn ordered to pay $188m damages to IBRC over "pivotal" role in stripping assets

Peter Darragh Quinn
Peter Darragh Quinn

Tim Healy

Peter Darragh Quinn, a nephew of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn, has been ordered to pay US$188m dollars damages to Irish Bank Resolution Corporation over his "pivotal" role in stripping assets from the Quinn family's international property group.

Three Russian companies were also ordered to pay damages of €252m, US$239m and US$201m over their involvement in the scheme to place assets beyond the reach of the bank.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly assessed damages in those amounts at the Commercial Court today following the entry of judgment last February against Mr Quinn after he failed to enter a defence to the bank's claim.

The judge noted IBRC had limited its claim to $188m for now against Mr Quinn but was reserving its position in relation to other possibly quantifiable losses. He was satisfied the bank was entitled to judgment in that sum over Mr Quinn's wrongful conduct.

He also continued an order restraining Mr Quinn reducing his assets below €50m.

IBRC special liquidator Kieran Wallace had said the US$188m sum reflected the lost value of the Kutuzoff Tower in Moscow, owned by a Russian company of which Mr Quinn was the general director. Mr Wallace said he was concerned the actions of Mr Quinn, the companies and others meant the bank would be unable to recover various assets in the IPG.

Mr Quinn was not in court and has remained at his home in Lisbellaw, Co Fermanagh, across the border in Northern Ireland, since the High Court made findings of contempt against him, his cousin Sean Quinn Junior and uncle Sean Quinn Senior in June 2012. A warrant for his arrest to serve a three month sentence for contempt remains unexecuted.

While Mr Quinn had not entered a defence to the bank's application for judgment against him, he wrote to the Commercial Court last month, and again last weekend, asking it to defer the assessment of damages pending the outcome of his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against the contempt finding.

Alternatively, he asked that he be allowed adopt the defences entered by other members of the Quinn family to the bank's claim. The bank knew he was not a "mark" for damages and would not be prejudiced by an adjournment, he added.

Shane Murphy SC, for IBRC, opposed the adjournment application on grounds including Mr Quinn had taken no steps to advance his Supreme Court appeal against the contempt finding. The bank also had no details of the ECHR appeal, he added.

Mr Quinn had himself decided not to enter a defence to this case or to attend court, counsel also argued.

Mr Justice Kelly, refusing the adjournment application, said Mr Quinn remained in flagrant contempt of court and there was no merit to his application.

The judge then heard the bank's application for assessment of damages against Mr Quinn and a number of companies. He granted $188m damages against Mr Quinn and damages in various sums against three Russian companies over their involvement in the asset stripping scheme.

IBRC in 2011 initiated its proceedings against several companies and various Quinn family members, including Peter Darragh Quinn, alleging stripping of assets from the IPG.

Earlier today, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne further adjourned to June 11th a hearing related to efforts by Sean Quinn Jnr to purge his contempt of court orders. The judge heard Mr Quinn, who served a three month prison term for contempt, is offering a payment of €75,000.

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