Wednesday 11 December 2019

Sean Quinn, two cars and a demand to stop 'visits'


Sean Quinn recently being interviewed by Paraic O’Brien for Channel 4 News
Sean Quinn recently being interviewed by Paraic O’Brien for Channel 4 News
Sean Quinn. Picture: Lorraine Teevan
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Sean Quinn will be asked by Quinn Industrial Holdings to stay away from his old businesses and to return two company cars.

The company’s management reached a decision last week to write to Mr Quinn after he was openly observed visiting the Cavan company’s cement plant in Ballyconnell last Tuesday and its quarries across the Border in Derrylin the previous week.

The management team, who once worked for Mr Quinn, are expected to ask him to keep his distance, according to company sources, given the local tensions sparked by the attack on one of its executives, Kevin Lunney.

The company is also expected to ask Mr Quinn to return an Audi A6 and an older Range Rover which it claims are company property.

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The relationship between Sean Quinn and his old management team has become increasingly strained since the attack on QIH executive Mr Lunney.

Detectives are investigating the long-standing campaign of sabotage of the company property and intimidation of its management team.

Mr Quinn has repeatedly condemned the attacks on the company and said they were not carried out in his name.

Detectives are investigating around 70 incidents that started when Mr Quinn lost control of his businesses in 2011 and which continued after he left his €500,000 consultancy role in 2016.

The management of Quinn Industrial Holdings have provided detectives with files of minutes of meetings, correspondence and internal reports during Sean Quinn’s time as consultant and how the relationship soured.

Mr Quinn has publicly claimed that he was “sacked” from his consultancy role and “stabbed in the back”. 

However, a confidential letter among the documents given to detectives reveals how after being hired as a consultant, Mr Quinn demanded that the new American investors give him a stake in the business, a seat on the board and the power to run the company.

In a scathing letter to Mr Quinn’s US advisor, the American investors rejected his request and warned that he would have to drop his “unreasonable demands” and false allegations against the management team if he was to stay on as a consultant.

The letter accused the former tycoon of requesting “an immediate handover of equity he does not own; he wants QIHL management to immediately address ‘points of principle’ that are akin to Sean dictating the strategic direction of the company; and he asks for a board seat”.

The investors say they had no evidence “that Sean has used his personal relationships to quell the fringe groups in the community that are making threats and allegations against our management and directors”.

The three American investors - Brigade Capital, Silver Point Capital and Contrarian Capital - were persuaded by a local business consortium to buy back the manufacturing businesses in 2014, re-instating Mr Quinn's original management to run the companies.

The  American investors refused to employ Mr Quinn directly as he was embroiled in litigation at the time.  Instead, Mr Quinn and his son, Sean Jr, were hired back as consultants on respective salaries of €500,000 and €100,000 a year. The investors transferred equity to directors which supporters of Sean Quinn say was ultimately held for him. The US investors imposed a restriction preventing the directors from transferring the shares to Sean Quinn or any third party.

However, the leaked letter reveals that the Americans were willing to lift the restriction over time if Mr Quinn agreed to engage constructively with the management team and supported the business in the community.

"When we last met, Sean rejected our proposed solution outright, and instead accused our management team of mis-appropriating company funds (such allegations which have subsequently been proven completely unfounded by both the Company's external auditor and an independent forensic accountant) and indicated he had no interest in working constructively with the existing senior management team."

It continued that Mr Quinn asked "for an immediate handover of equity he does not own; he wants QIHL management to immediately address 'points of principle' that are akin to Sean dictating the strategic direction of the Company; and he asks for a board seat.

"We believe unless Sean truly embraces the need to work with our existing management team, rather than discredit them, there is not a role for Sean in our company going forward."

Detectives are also examining minutes of a fractious board meeting that preceded Mr Quinn's showdown with US investors in January 2016.

Mr Quinn attended the meeting with members of his family and local supporters and called for the resignation of some of the directors and demanded his equity stake. 

Mr Quinn was contacted by the Sunday Independent yesterday but he declined to comment on this story.

Sunday Independent

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