Wednesday 23 May 2018

Sean Quinn Jnr awarded €95k for 'unfair' sacking

Tribunal finding comes ahead of Quinn family's mammoth €4.3bn court showdown with State

Sean Quinn Jr.
Sean Quinn Jr.
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Sean Quinn's son has been awarded €95,000 by a tribunal that found he was unfairly dismissed from his job as head of claims at Quinn Insurance by administrators appointed to the business, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Sean Quinn Junior (36) was sacked from the insurance company founded by his one-time billionaire father "under the cloak of redundancy", according to a ruling by the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) issued on May 20.

Quinn Insurance claimed that he was let go because his job no longer existed. But the tribunal has concluded that the company did not act "fairly" or "reasonably" towards Sean Quinn Junior, and that his dismissal took place against a backdrop of an "antagonistic" and "fractious" relationship with the administrators.

The tribunal's finding comes ahead of the Quinn family's mammoth €4.3bn legal action against the former Anglo Irish Bank in the High Court.

The case is due to start on Wednesday, the culmination of a long and acrimonious battle over the bank's take over of the Quinn Group in 2011.

Joint administrators had been appointed to Quinn Insurance at the request of the Central Bank in March 2010, after the financial regulator raised concerns about how the business was being run.

The winding up of the business has since cost the State at least €1bn in claims payouts, and led to a 2pc levy being imposed on all insurance premiums taken out by Irish customers.

During hearings over three days, Sean Quinn Junior claimed that he and his siblings were ousted from the company in a process of "de-Quinning" the business.

He said he was told not to attend senior management meetings and was asked to take redundancy.

His IT access was disabled without prior warning and he felt he was being "victimised".

The tribunal also heard a claim that at a meeting with five employees, Michael McAteer "pointed at each one individually", said "You're a friend of Sean Jr" and urged them not to associate with him. However, the administrator denied this.

Mr McAteer also denied telling Sean Jnr that he had no future in the company, and denied asking him to take redundancy.

The EAT concluded: "Having considered the totality of the evidence, the Tribunal is not satisfied that there was a genuine redundancy."

It found that the decision to dismiss Sean Junior had to be viewed "against a background of antagonistic relations between the parties".

"The tribunal is satisfied that the respondent did not act fairly and reasonably in his dealings with the claimant.

"There was a fractious relationship between the claimant and the respondent and the dismissal lacked the impersonality associated with redundancy," it said.

"The tribunal is satisfied that the claimant was dismissed for matters other than redundancy under the cloak of redundancy."

The unfair dismissals decision comes days before Sean Junior, his sisters Aoife, Ciara, Colette and Brenda and their mother, Patricia, are to open their case against Anglo's successor, the now liquidated IBRC, claiming that €2.3bn in loans that were extended to various Quinn companies were illegal.

For its part, the bank has accused members of the Quinn family of conspiring to put their €500m overseas property portfolio beyond the bank's reach.

That case sparked an international hunt to secure the assets, scores of court appearances and jail sentences for contempt of court for both Sean Quinn and Sean Junior.

Talks with IBRC's liquidator to drop both actions were close to being agreed last month but have been stalled because of the controversy over the Siteserv deal and IBRC's write down of its debt.

Both sides are now gearing up for the case to go ahead on Wednesday.

Sean Quinn junior, who once owned 20pc in the Quinn Group, the Belfry golf club in the UK and various other properties, told the tribunal he was "unemployed" but is close to getting back to work.

He wed Karen Woods in the middle of contempt of court proceedings brought by IBRC and spent part of his early married life in jail for contempt of court in 2012.

He earned close to €400,000 working for a Russian company linked to the family's international property portfolio, but later had to relinquish it by court order.

Sunday Independent

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