| 20.2°C Dublin

'Get my pack of cards' - Sean Snr's final plea

Close

THE Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (formerly Anglo Irish Bank) met with the garda fraud squad to discuss its suspicions about members of the Quinn family, it has emerged.

As the former billionaire Sean Quinn begins his nine-week jail sentence for contempt of court this weekend, the Sunday Independent has learnt that IBRC executives held at least one meeting with detectives at the National Bureau of Fraud Investigation in the past eight months.

No formal complaint has made. However, it is understood that the bank was fulfilling its obligations under legislation introduced last year which makes it an offence for corporations not to report information about a possible crime.

Minutes before he was led off to a prison van, Mr Quinn said "get my pack of cards". He admitted he was "an eejit" who had made big mistakes in his handling of the overseas family property portfolio and apologised to Irish taxpayers.

"Did I apologise to the Irish public? Yes, I do. Is it small fry compared to the overall assault that has been launched on us, on our companies, and destroyed me? It is an absolute disaster," he said.

"Sean Quinn is an eejit and Sean Quinn did stupid things, I accept that but did he run a great company for 35 years? One of the best ever," he said.

The bank has accused members of the family of fraud by conspiring to put the family's $500m foreign property portfolio out of reach.

IBRC appointed receivers to the Quinn Group last year over a €2.8bn debt which the Quinn family have refused to repay, claiming the loans are illegal. Quinn, his son, Sean Jnr, and his nephew, Peter, were found guilty of contempt after the High Court accepted damning evidence of continued asset-stripping, despite court orders that they desist.

Sean Quinn Snr was jailed on Friday for what the court described as his outrageous and serious contempt.

In the past year, the bank compiled an extensive dossier which, it claims, shows the family still controls a $500m overseas property portfolio, despite the family's denials.

The IBRC was obliged to contact gardai under Section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act 2011, which makes it an offence for a bank -- or any other corporation -- to withhold information about corporate crimes. The legislation was introduced by Justice Minister Alan Shatter last year.

In court documents last week, IBRC's Richard Woodhouse said the defendants -- who include Sean Quinn, his daughters Ciara, Colette, Aoife and Brenda, his son, Sean Jnr, and his nephew, Peter Darragh -- had conspired to "take all possible steps to put assets beyond the reach of the bank. IBRC has been met with fraudulent activity and delays which I believe have been orchestrated by the defendants".

In other court documents, Mr Woodhouse accused Sean Quinn Jnr and his cousin, Peter Darragh Quinn of providing misleading and untruthful accounts" to the High Court where they, along with Sean Quinn Snr, were found guilty of contempt.

The bank has claimed that money has been extracted from the companies in various guises; employment contracts for some of the Quinn family were backdated to include termination payments.

The family has claimed that they no longer control the properties, and that having transferred them to various overseas entities, they cannot get them back.

IBRC contends that members of the Quinn family continue to control the valuable overseas property portfolio. The bank claims that members of the Quinn family have secretly thwarted the bank's attempts to recover the assets.

It is now going into a joint venture with a Russian company to trace and recover the assets in Russia and Ukraine for a final fee that could be as high as €155m.

The Criminal Justice Act 2011 introduced a new offence of withholding information relating to white-collar crime in corporate bodies. Those who withhold information about such crimes and are found guilty of this offence face a penalty of up to five years' imprisonment on conviction.

Shortly before he was led away to jail on Friday, Quinn told reporters that the bank had taken all his companies but proven nothing.

"They haven't proven that this money is owed, they haven't proved they had a right to put in a receiver, they haven't proved that they loaned any money to the assets in Russia and the Ukraine. The whole thing is a charade," he said.

Yesterday, Sean Jnr, accompanied by his wife Karen Woods, visited his father.

"He's surprised and disappointed that he was put in jail and hopes that in time to come, we will be able to prove what an injustice it is," he said.

"He is in the training unit. He is being kept in the normal prison conditions," he said.

Sunday Independent