Sunday 19 November 2017

Sean Quinn Jnr may learn fate on Friday

Sean Quinn junior arrives at the High Court in Dublin, where he lost his appeal bid. Photo: PA
Sean Quinn junior arrives at the High Court in Dublin, where he lost his appeal bid. Photo: PA
Sean Quinn junior's sister Colette (left) and his wife Karen Woods arrive at the High Court in Dublin
Sean Quinn junior's sister sister Aoife (left), her husband Stephen Kelly (centre) and Niall McPartland arrive at the High Court

Tim Healy

THE jailed son of bankrupt billionaire Sean Quinn may learn Friday whether he faces a further period of detention in Mountjoy Prison.

It follows a Supreme Court majority ruling that the High Court was entitled to jail Sean Quinn junior for three months over his involvement in a controversial US$500,000 payment to a Ukranian woman.

The three month period expires tomorrow but the Supreme Court said today that Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IRBC), the former Anglo Irish Bank, is free to apply to jail Quinn Jnr until such time as he purges his contempt over the August 2011 payment to Larissa Puga, general director of Quinn Properties Ukraine. The $500,000 payment was made on the eve of Quinn Properties takeover by the bank.

It was previously indicated Quinn Jnr could purge his contempt if he paid that sum to the bank.

In the High Court on Friday, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne is due to review developments since she made orders on July 20 last jailing Quinn Jnr.

She also made an order jailing his cousin Peter Darragh Quinn but, as he did not attend court and has remained at his home in Northern Ireland, that order remains unexecuted.

The judge had said in July she would not jail Sean Quinn Snr at that stage so as to leave him free to take steps to reverse the asset-stripping scheme. It remains a possibility that the bank could apply to jail Quinn Snr tomorrow.

Quinn Jnr was jailed following the finding of contempt over the Puga payment and over non-compliance with some 30 coercive orders made against all three Quinns.

The 30 orders were aimed at reversing a range of measures designed to strip up to US$430m assets from the Quinn's international property group so as to put them beyond the reach of IBRC, which is pursuing the Quinn family over some €2.8bn loans.

The judge had also found Sean Quinn Snr and Peter Darragh Quinn in contempt over the Puga payment and other measures and ruled they too had failed to comply with the coercive orders.

It was argued on behalf of the Quinns they could not comply with the coercive orders for various reasons, including that events in Russia and Ukraine had moved outside their control into the control of lawyers and others in those countries.

Today, the Supreme Court delivered its summarised ruling on Quinn Jnr's five day appeal against the High Court finding of contempt and the decision to jail him. Full written judgments will be provided on October 24 outlining the detailed reasons for the court's decision.

Quinn Jnr was permitted to leave prison to attend court for the brief ruling and was accompanied by his wife, Karen Woods, sisters Aoife and Colette, and brothers in law Niall McPartland and Stephen Kelly. IBRC was represented by its CEO, Mike Aynsley, and senior executive Richard Woodhouse.

The Chief Justice, Ms Justice Susan Denham; Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell and Mr Justice Liam McKechnie all agreed with Mr Justice Nial Fennelly's decision dismissing Quinn Junior's appeals against the finding he was in contempt over the Puga payment and against the imposition of three months imprisonment on foot of Ms Justice Dunne's order of July 20.

However, the four judges found with Mr Quinn Jnr in his appeal against the finding he breached all 30 coercive orders but upheld orders requiring him to disclose his assets and providing for the appointment of receivers over those assets. He has provided affidavits of assets.

The four judges also found there was "no distinct consideration" by Ms Justice Dunne on July 20 as to whether Quinn Jnr should be committed to prison until such time as he purged his contempt over participation in the Puga payment. That did not prevent the bank making a further application to the High Court in that respect, they said.

Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman disagreed with the majority court and said he would have allowed the appeal in its entirety. He said he would set aside the finding of contempt and, for other reasons to be outlined in his written judgment later, also allow the appeal against the three month sentence.

"I do not consider it appropriate to give any indication as to the courses of action open to the bank, or to the Quinn interests, in the present case as it seems entirely possible that this Court will find itself again obliged to consider any step taken in the High Court on the application of either party," the judge said.

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