Saturday 16 November 2019

Quinn family must disclose spending on employment by Russian companies – High Court

Sean Quinn
Sean Quinn

SOME family members of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn have been given between six to ten weeks by a court to produce documents showing how they spent substantial monies from their alleged employment with Russian companies.

Martin Hayden SC, for the Quinns, told the Commercial Court they would need up to 16 weeks to disclose some of the material sought and did not have the resources to produce the material within six weeks as sought by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).

Ailil O'Reilly, for IBRC, rejected those arguments and said the Quinns had been on notice for some time this material was being sought. Counsel said he also understood funding for the litigation was coming from a Northern Ireland based trust, the Erne Trust.

When Mr O'Reilly later accepted there was no evidence before the court concerning the allegation on the funding of the litigation, Mr Justice Peter Kelly said he was not taking such a claim into account in his decision as it was not based on any evidence.

The judge described as "very helpful" evidence given to the court by a computer expert as to how long it might take to retrieve deleted emails and other materials from devices belonging to some of the Quinns. That expert said it would take a matter of days to retrieve emails in legible form but a forensic analysis would take longer and could cost up to €30,000.

Having heard from the sides, the judge made orders for a form of "rolling disclosure" with the effect some categories of documents will have to be produced within six weeks while ten weeks were allowed for other categories.

The judge also noted another High Court judge is due to rule next week on the Quinns' application to lift orders which have frozen their accounts below €50m.

Those orders were granted in June and July 2012 to IBRC in its action alleging members of the family were involved in a scheme to put assets in the Quinn international property group (IPG) beyond its reach.

Should Mr Justice Michael Peart rule next week in favour of the Quinns application to lift the freezing orders, the disclosure orders will fall, Mr Justice Kelly noted.

IBRC sought the disclosure after a court cross-examination of the five children of Mr Quinn and two of their spouses - Stephen Kelly and Niall McPartland - concerning whether they had made full disclosure of material sought by the bank.

After that examination, Mr Justice Kelly ruled it was "simply incredible" to accept claims by some of the family they could not produce documents concerning their alleged contracts of employment with Russian companies from which, he said,  they were paid "very large" sums totalling almost €2m in a "very strange way".

He ruled the five Quinn children, Mr Kelly, Mr McPartland and Sean Quinn junior's wife, Karen Woods, had made "substandard" disclosure of several categories of documents, including concerning bank accounts held by them directly or indirectly since April 2011.

He directed disclosure of documents relating to rents paid to IPG companies, ownership of several Quinn companies and that the defendants should list all relevant documents which they once had and had deleted and explain why those deletions were carried out.


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