Saturday 16 December 2017

Quinns had 'assassination insurance' contracts worth €7.5m each, court told

Tim Healy

MEMBERS of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn's family would get payments of up to €7.5m if they were injured or if there was "an assassination attempt" on them while employed with Russian companies, it has been claimed in the Supreme Court.

`Members of the family travelled to Moscow to sign their employment contracts with Russian companies, entitling them to "huge" payments of up to €36m each, the court was told.

It happened just days after the High Court made orders restraining the stripping of assets from those and other companies, the five-judge court was told.

According to emails recently obtained from a "deliberately smashed" computer in premises of one of the Russian companies, the contracts provided for payments up to 300m roubles - about €7.5m - if the Quinns were injured or disabled or there was an "assassination attempt" on them while on "official duties" for the companies.

The contracts also provided for employment termination payments ranging from €15m to €36m each, plus substantial annual wages up to €560,000 each and a wide range of benefits.

Arrangements to draft and sign the contracts were made by family members days before and on the eve of a July 20, 2011, High Court application by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) formerly Anglo Irish Bank, for orders restraining the stripping of assets worth up to US$430m from companies in the family's international property group (IPG).

Other emails showed Sean Quinn Jnr dealing with property management issues for Russian companies earlier this year, months after the Quinns told the High Court they had lost control of those companies, said Paul Gallagher SC, for IBRC.

The emails were obtained by the administrator appointed by the bank to one of the Russian companies, Finansstroy, owner of the most valuable asset in the IPG, the Kutuzoff Tower in Moscow, and showed the Quinns had given "utterly false" evidence in the High Court contempt proceedings about not being in control of the Russian companies, counsel said.

These and other matters should persuade the Supreme Court to uphold a High Court finding Sean Quinn Jnr was lawfully jailed last July 20 for contempt of orders made by the High Court in June and July 2011 restraining stripping of assets so as to place them beyond the reach of IBRC, he said.

Counsel was making submissions in the continuing appeal by Sean Quinn Jnr against a High Court finding of June last he was in contempt of the June and July 2011 orders via participation in a US$500,000 payment to Larrisa Puga, general director of Quinn Properties Ukraine, in late August 2011 just before the bank took over that company.

The appeal is also against a July 20 order jailing Sean Quinn Jnr following failure to comply with some 30 coercive orders aimed at reversing the Puga payment and other asset-stripping measures.

The appeal has been adjourned to Wednesday next when it is expected to conclude with judgment reserved.

Mr Gallagher said the Quinns had given evidence to the High Court they were not involved in the Puga payment but the "huge" multi-million termination payments for themselves involved similar contracts.

Sean Jnr had claimed the employment contracts could not be retrieved but the administrator had retrieved them, he said.

Sean Jnr was also head of Logistica in March 2012, at the time of the contempt proceedings when the Quinns claimed they had lost control of the Russian companies, counsel said.

The making of false statements by the Quinns in the High Court proceedings should be taken into account by the Supreme Court in considering whether that jailing decision should be upheld, he urged.

The Supreme Court should also take the new material into account or else it would be dealing with Sean Quinn jnr's appeal on a basis that was "absolutely and utterly false", counsel said. The process leading to the jailing decision was fair and involved "no substantial injustice", he argued.

Mr Gallagher, who has said the bank does not accept the €430m assets are gone and beyond the control of the Quinns, said emails showed Peter Darragh Quinn had on February 29 last passed on responsibility for matters affecting the Russian companies to Sean Jnr.

Subsequent emails showed Sean Quinn Jnr dealing with snow removal, canteen and electricity supply issues for various Russian companies, he said.

In an earlier email dated July 19, 2011, Stephen Kelly, husband of Aoife Quinn, told a Russian company employee that Ciara, Aoife and Colette Quinn (three of Mr Quinn's daughters), Niall McPartland (husband of Ciara Quinn) and Karen Woods (the then fiancee and now wife of Sean Quinn jnr) "will be over to Moscow next week and will be taking jobs in three Russian companies - Red Sector, Logistica and Fin Invest".

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