Tuesday 20 March 2018

Quinns traded €10m firm for laptop, court told

Sean Quinn (left) with his wife Patricia
Sean Quinn (left) with his wife Patricia
Laura Noonan

Laura Noonan

BUSINESSMAN Sean Quinn's son-in-law was allowed to trade a €380 laptop for a $13.4m (€9.8m) property company as the Quinn family advanced a campaign to move their international property assets beyond the reach of Anglo Irish Bank, a Cyprus court was told yesterday.

The dramatic claim was made by Anglo as the bank questioned more than $300m (€219m) worth of transfers away from the Quinn family's international property empire in recent months.

Anglo seized the €500m property portfolio on April 14 after the bank called in €2.8bn worth of Quinn family loans. The Quinn Group manufacturing empire was seized by the bank and other lenders on the same day.

Since then, Anglo alleges that the family has engaged in an "orchestrated attack" to "strip assets" from the international property group and put those assets beyond Anglo's reach.

Before yesterday's hearing, Anglo had told the court that Sean Quinn's nephew Peter Quinn effectively bought a $180m (€132m) property from the Quinns' international property empire for just €1,000.

Yesterday, the bank claimed it had "new information" about further transfers of value from the property empire, including the $13.4m laptop swap and a "concocted" claim by a Belize company that got $100m (€73m) from the property empire. In an affidavit, Anglo executive Richard Woodhouse claimed the steps were "taken with the clear and undoubted intention of seeking to ensure that ... there will be no value left" in the companies the bank has seized.

Mr Woodhouse added that he is "gravely concerned" that "identical or similar steps" have already been taken to push other major assets in the property portfolio beyond the bank's reach.

A spokesman for the Quinn family last night declined to comment on Anglo's allegations or provide the Quinns' affidavits for the Cypriot case. Sources close to the family stressed that "no findings of impropriety" had been made by any court. The alleged laptop trade involves a Russian company called Red Sector, which owns a DIY store worth $13.4m (€9.8m). A company seized by Anglo owned 100pc of Red Sector until July 21.

On that date, Stephen Kelly, the husband of Sean Quinn's daughter Aoife, became a 4.9pc shareholder. By August 8, Mr Kelly was listed as the sole shareholder and the stake owned by Anglo's company had been eliminated.

"The only consideration provided was a laptop computer worth approximately €380," Anglo told the court yesterday, adding that the transfer had taken place to "denude" Anglo of value.

Anglo is also claiming the transfer was in breach of an injunction granted by the Irish courts earlier in the summer preventing the Quinn family from interfering with the international property empire while litigation was pending.

The sequence of events is claimed to mirror the transfer of ownership of a $180m Russian company to Sean Quinn's nephew, which had been described by Anglo in a previous affidavit.

The latest documents from the bank also allege a $100m "concocted" bill that was paid by a bankrupt company in the Quinn property empire to a company in Belize which Anglo "believes is owned by the Quinn family or to their benefit".

Anglo says the payment was made on the back of a $276m (€202m) claim that had been listed as owned by Cranaghan Property Management, a company owned by the Quinn children.

The debt was later reassigned to Galfis Overseas Ltd, a Belize-registered entity. Anglo says this was done to "wrongly assign" the money out of the International Property Group that Anglo has taken control of.

The bank believes "these arrangements are a construct and have no basis in law", Mr Woodhouse said.

Irish Independent

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