Thursday 14 December 2017

Group shelled out €227,000 for protection from attacks

Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

THE Quinn Group paid a security firm a massive €227,000 over a four-week period for the protection of its headquarters from attack.

The huge sum reflects the enormous financial toll resulting from the campaign of intimidation waged against senior executives and the company HQ since the ousting of the group's founder Sean Quinn.

Vandals have caused thousands of euro worth of damage to company property in counties Fermanagh and Cavan after the former Anglo Irish Bank appointed receivers to the group.

The bank sought to recover unpaid loans of €2.8bn from founder Mr Quinn, who was ousted from the business. An acrimonious legal battle has ensued since.

Company records show that the Quinn Group made three payments to a security firm called Easter Hill Security -- for €50,000, €107,000 and €70,000.

The payments were made over one four-week period between November and early December. The last €70,000 payment was made in early December, just weeks before a masked driver reversed a lorry into the canteen in the group's Derrylin headquarters.

Easter Hill, which specialises in "investigation and security activities", was set up by former members of the Army Ranger wing -- 'Ireland's Special Forces elite'.

The Quinn Group pointed out that the €227,000 security bill paid to the firm wasn't just for one month's work -- the fee included security carried out earlier in the year.

This weekend, the group's chief executive Paul O'Brien acknowledged that large sums have been spent on security.

He said: "I am unhappy about it but I feel that it's something that needs to be done to protect our assets, both physical and human."

An acrimonious atmosphere has festered since receivers took control. The head offices were vandalised and the new management has been threatened and intimidated, culminating in an arson attack at the home of the new chief executive Paul O'Brien.

In the past, Mr O'Brien has spoken of how three senior executives were followed and threatened, which resulted in security guards being posted to their homes and drivers being appointed to bring them to and from work.

Shortly after the security was lifted, Mr O'Brien's car was set alight in the driveway of his home.

Sean Quinn elicited enormous loyalty in the border heartland where he based his business empire. He has condemned the attacks and said they were not carried out in his name.

Easter Hill isn't the only security firm used by the Quinn Group. It retains the services of another firm which it declined to name. And it used to retain Risk Management International, the same firm that was hired by Anglo to organise the elaborate, covert security operation that accompanied the surprise appointment of receivers.

RMI also investigated Mr Quinn on behalf of Anglo -- now the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) -- when it successfully challenged his petition for bankruptcy in the North.

Sunday Independent

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