Sunday 25 February 2018

Derek 'Ronaldo' Quinlan sought €70m 'side' payment

Derek Quinlan, former Executive Chairman and Founder of Quinlan Private arrives for The Oireachtas Banking Inquiry at Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Derek Quinlan, former Executive Chairman and Founder of Quinlan Private arrives for The Oireachtas Banking Inquiry at Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Derek Quinlan
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

One of Nama's biggest borrowers, the high-flying financier Derek Quinlan, looked for a fee of Stg£50m (€69.5m) for himself and his associates from the buyers of his 35pc stake in the world-famous Claridge's, Berkeley and Connaught hotels, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

The request for the massive payment, which Mr Quinlan insists he would have handed over to Nama had the deal proceeded, emerged in High Court proceedings taken by the Belfast-born property tycoon Paddy McKillen in London in 2012 against the billionaire Barclay brothers.

Mr Quinlan told the Banking Inquiry last Thursday he had a "touch of Ronaldo" about him during the boom years.

Responding to questions on discussions he had held in 2010 with the Oberoi Group, Mr Quinlan confirmed the detail of the proposed Stg£50m payment after a letter dealing with the issue was read into the court record.

The letter, provided by a consultant who acted on behalf of the Oberoi Group, stated that Mr Quinlan had sought a fee of £50m in the course of discussions relating to the proposed sale of his 35pc stake in Coroin, the company behind the three London hotels.

Seeking clarification on the matter, Mr Justice Richards read the following paragraph to the court: "It became clear that an essential part of the discussions was the requirement for a separate payment to Mr. Quinlan or parties associated with him. I was told that the amount of this payment was £50 million."

Asked by the judge if this information was correct, Mr Quinlan said: "That is correct."

The financier pointed out that £11m of the £50m was to have gone to another individual - a Mr Cross and his associate - had the deal with the Oberoi Group proceeded.

Asked by counsel for Mr McKillen, Philip Marshall, if he had informed the other shareholders in the hotel group, Coroin, of his discussions with the Oberoi Group, Mr Quinlan said: "The shareholders were well aware that we were speaking to a number of parties, as they all were."

Asked specifically if his fellow shareholders had been aware of the discussions with the Oberoi Group, he said: "No, they were not."

Asked if they had been aware of his request for £50m from Oberoi, Mr Quinlan said: "It never happened."

When questioned again if he had informed his fellow shareholders or any of the directors of Coroin about his request for the £50m fee, the financier said: "I did not."

Mr Marshall put it to Mr Quinlan that he had not told Nama about the request for the £50m fee either.

"No, I did not," Mr Quinlan responded.

The financier was then brought through a letter he had sent on November 15, 2010 to Paul Hennigan, his portfolio manager at Nama, in which he responded to the agency's suggestion that he consider filing a voluntary petition for bankruptcy.

Mr Quinlan wrote: "Firstly, I wish to confirm that I and my management team at QCrest Management Services Limited remain 100% committed to cooperating with NAMA at all times to ensure that I maximize realisations for NAMA and my other creditors from the disposal of my assets. This has and will continue to be my key objective."

Having confirmed the content of the letter to the court, Mr Quinlan objected to the suggestion from Mr McKillen's lawyer that he was actually seeking to maximise his own fees from any transactions involving his shares in Claridge's, the Berkeley and the Connaught.

He said "No, that is not correct. I was seeking a fee, my Lord, but it would have been for the benefit of all of my creditors, including NAMA."

Mr Quinlan has always maintained that he has sought to maximise the repayment of his debts to Nama, and by extension the Irish taxpayer. His Nama portfolio manager Mr Hennigan, also gave evidence in London's High Court in 2012.

When questioned by Mr McKillen's lawyer, Mr Hennigan confirmed he had heard "rumours" Mr Quinlan had been seeking side payments.

He said: "I had heard that for a number of asset sales, Mr Quinlan had sought side payments."

Sunday Independent

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