Monday 27 May 2019

Quinn children consent to further judgment of US$133m in settlement with IBRC

The Quinn children, from left, Aoife, Brenda, Ciara, Colette (partially hidden) and Seán Jr. Photo: Collins Courts
The Quinn children, from left, Aoife, Brenda, Ciara, Colette (partially hidden) and Seán Jr. Photo: Collins Courts

Tim Healy and Shane Phelan

A further judgment for a total US$133m (€118.2m) has been obtained on consent against former billionaire Sean Quinn's five adult children.

It comes a day after the five children consented to judgments totalling €440m – €88m each – as part of a settlement of their legal action against the former Anglo Irish Bank over liability for hundreds of millions of euro in loans.

The latest judgment, given this morning in the commercial division of the High Court, comes as part of the settlement of separate proceedings in which Anglo’s successor, the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), sued the Quinn family over an alleged conspiracy to strip €455m worth of foreign property assets.

Anglo and later IBRC have been seeking to recover the assets since 2011 after the Quinn family empire collapsed under the weight of massive debts.

The court heard this morning that three of the siblings’ spouses have also consented to the US$133m judgment.

As was the case in the loan case settlement, a stay is being put on the enforcement of the judgments on condition the Quinns cooperate with IBRC's efforts to recover and liquidate former Quinn group assets.

IBRC is thought to have spent up to €170m seeking to recover various foreign properties, which include an 800-bedroom hotel in Prague, an office building in India, and properties in Moscow and Kiev.

The courts have previously heard how a scheme, which one judge said “reeks of dishonesty and sharp practice”, was put in place in 2011 to put the properties beyond the reach of IBRC.

The judgment for US$133m obtained this morning is against Sean Quinn Jr, his wife Karen Woods, Aoife Quinn and her husband Stephen Kelly, Ciara Quinn and her husband Niall McPartland, Brenda Quinn and Colette Quinn.

It is part of a settlement reached following a week of talks between both sides.

Both sets of litigation date back to 2011 when Anglo Irish Bank moved to take control of Quinn companies over debt of some €2.8bn, comprising about €2.34m corporate debt and more than €400m personal debt.

But the hearing of those cases was delayed due to various criminal trials involving former Anglo executives.

The total value of former Quinn group assets recovered by IBRC, including assets in Ireland, is believed to be somewhere between €800m and €1bn.

But the recover has come at heavy price for State-owned IBRC and it is believed litigation and other recovery costs in Ireland and several other countries could be as high as €170m.

IBRC had alleged actions of the Quinns frustrated and delayed its recovery efforts and has substantially reduced the value of those assets, especially properties in Russia and Ukraine.

The net recovery sum will be applied to reduce the estimated €2.34bn debt of Quinn companies to IBRC.

In court this morning, Barry O'Donnell SC, for IBRC, told Mr Justice Robert Haughton it had settled against the Quinn defendants.

The settlement is confidential but includes the consent of the Quinn siblings and the three spouses to the US$133m judgment, counsel said.

He said the settlement provided for a stay on enforcement of the judgment with liberty to vacate the stay if there is failure to comply with the terms of settlement, which includes "non-interference provisions".

Under the agreement, injunctions are being sought, he said.

He said the agreement also provided for the discharge of receivers appointed in 2011 over the Quinn family members accounts and assets, except in relation to Peter Darragh Quinn, a nephew of Sean Quinn.

It had also been agreed that all costs orders made between IBRC and the five siblings and the three spouses in the proceedings to date would be discharged.

Sean Quinn Sr, to whom the US$133m judgment order does not apply, had also signed the settlement agreement, counsel said.

He said the parties had signed up to the settlement agreement at various times, including March 29 and 31.

IBRC anticipated the dispute with the remaining defendants in the conspiracy case would also be resolved, he said.

He said it was hoped agreement would be reached concerning IBRC's proposed applications to enforce judgments obtained in the Russian courts and an application would be made later in that regard.

Agreement had also been reached to make orders dismissing intended proceedings by the Quinn family against the Central Bank, Minister for Finance and various other parties, including former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick and former chief executive David Drumm, counsel said. Solicitors for those parties consented to this.

After the judge made the various orders sought, counsel said IBRC was very grateful to the court for the time spent on dealing with multiple aspects of the litigation.

The judge replied: "It is our job to hear cases."

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