BANKRUPT businessman Sean Quinn will find out today whether he will be sent to jail for breaking court orders not to interfere with his family's €500m international property group (IPG).
Lawyers for the 66-year-old father of five told the High Court that the prospect of jail had been hanging over Mr Quinn for four months and he wanted to know his fate.
High Court Judge Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne -- who previously sentenced his only son Sean Quinn Jnr to three months in jail for breaking court orders -- heard that the ex-billionaire, once Ireland's richest man, was "bereft and forlorn" and would be bankrupt into his 70s.
The looming sentence comes as Finance Minister Michael Noonan has given his approval to the IBRC (formerly Anglo Irish Bank) to enter into a deal with a Russian company to help recover key overseas assets belonging to the Quinn family.
In a major development, the IBRC admitted that it had exhausted all legal remedies open to it to recover key foreign properties and could no longer "act alone" to recover them.
A1, the Russian asset-recovery company with which the bank wants to enter into a joint-venture agreement, will share the proceeds of any assets recovered, the High Court heard.
Barrister Eugene Grant QC, for Mr Quinn, made an impassioned and urgent plea for the court to avoid sending him to prison, saying that recourse to jail should be a "very last resort" for a man who is on medication for serious medical problems, including heart disease.
The criminal lawyer said it would be "much more productive" to monitor and encourage Sean Quinn Snr to work with the IBRC (formerly Anglo).
It would be "vindictive", he argued, to jail such an iconic figure in order to gain a litigious advantage in the family's forthcoming civil action against the IBRC.
If jailed, Mr Quinn is expected to ask the Supreme Court to stay -- or postpone -- his sentence, pending the outcome of an appeal against his contempt conviction.
Mr Grant said that Mr Quinn was "far from being a Svengali" directing his family to strip assets and the proceedings against him were about deflecting attention from the history of a bank that "effectively ruined" the Irish economy.
The IBRC said Mr Quinn has failed to purge his contempt and that it believed Quinn family members were continuing to direct steps to prevent it recovering assets for the taxpayer.
The bank said it had been "continuously and unlawfully" frustrated by the Quinns or their agents.
Significantly, it revealed that it had reached the stage where it now considered that it could not recover assets acting alone and so had to engage A1, a local partner, to help it.
The bank also revealed that it had lost control of a key Quinn family asset, the $180m (€140m) Kutuzoff Tower block in Moscow.
Richard Woodhouse, group head of specialised asset management at the IBRC, said its chosen bankruptcy administrator had beenremoved from the Kutuzoff Tower, which was now at "significant risk".