Tom Lyons: How the Quinns lost their billions and now owe us a fortune
Anglo Irish Bank: In early October 2005, Sean Quinn started to take positions in Anglo Irish Bank, AIB and Bank of Ireland using a financial instrument called contracts for difference (CFD) as part of a diverse portfolio that also included robust blue-chip firms like Ryanair, Deutsche Telekom, Tullow Oil and Nestle.
CFDs are a high-reward, but also high-risk way of betting on shares. From late 2006, he began to cash out of his better international stocks to focus more and more on Anglo Irish Bank. Eventually he owned over 28 per cent through CFDs in what was the worst-ever stock market gamble by an Irishman. When Ireland's property bubble burst, he and his family lost about €2.5bn on Anglo Irish Bank when it was nationalised. The Quinns say the bank illegally used them to prop up its share price. Either way the taxpayer is facing a hell of a bill.
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