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Dearbhail McDonald: Cold comfort for ex-tycoon as his day in court approaches

SEAN QUINN Jnr is unlikely to draw too much comfort from the reasons handed down from the Supreme Court which upheld a three-month jail term he has served for his contempt of court.

It will provide even less comfort for his bankrupt father Sean Quinn Snr, whose own D-Day is fast approaching.

Next Thursday, Sean Quinn Snr will find out whether he will be jailed for breaking court orders not to interfere with the family's €500m strong International Property Group (IPG) and, critically, if he has done enough to purge his contempt.

The former billionaire has had a Damascene road experience, of sorts, after his son's incarceration.

He has now decided to co-operate fully with his nemesis IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank, but it remains to be seen if his eleventh hour conversion will be enough to stave off the warder's key.

A majority Supreme Court, rejecting Sean Quinn Jnr's appeal, said the single act of contempt of which he was found guilty -- facilitating a $500,000 (€385,000) payment to a Ukrainian businesswoman -- was "outrageous".

In contrast, Sean Quinn Snr was found guilty, along with his missing-in-action nephew, Peter Darragh Quinn, of three separate findings of contempt.

When he was sentenced for three months last July, Sean Quinn Jnr also received an indefinite sentence -- a mechanism devised to force his father's hand until some 30 coercive orders were met.

These coercive orders were designed to undo many of the asset transfers out of the IPG, described as asset stripping by IBRC.

But the bulk of those orders against Sean Quinn Jnr were not upheld because there was no finding against him concerning them.

It doesn't prevent the bank from getting their procedural house in order and going back for a second bite of the cherry.

Had Supreme Court Judge Adrian Hardiman, the sole dissentient on the court, had his way, Sean Quinn Jnr would not have been jailed at all.

Judge Hardiman did not carry his colleagues on the court on this occasion, but few are unlikely to agree with his observation that the litigation has been fought on both sides with extraordinary bitterness.

Judge Hardiman also hit the nail on the head when he said that both sides in the matter had questions to answer.

As more family members fall under the threat of going to prison, the more appealing a less bitter battle becomes.

Irish Independent