Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Liquidators can cross the border to claim £123m debt from Quinn

Peter Darragh Quinn
Peter Darragh Quinn

Liquidators of the former Anglo Irish Bank can cross the border to seize property from fugitive businessman Peter Darragh Quinn if he fails to pay $188m (£123.5m) to the bank.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday ordered the nephew of former Fermanagh tycoon Sean Quinn to pay the money for damages the judge said were caused by Mr Quinn's "pivotal" role in stripping assets from the Quinn family's international property group (IPG).

The former Anglo Irish Bank, now called the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), is in liquidation. A source close to the liquidators said the court order means they are now free to recover the debt in the Republic or in Northern Ireland, where Peter Darragh Quinn lives.

He fled to his home in Fermanagh last year to avoid being ordered to jail for contempt of court by Judge Kelly.

He cannot be extradited back to the Republic because the sentence was over a civil rather than a criminal matter.

However, the border is no protection when it comes to collecting a debt, according to sources close to the IBRC liquidators.

If Mr Quinn does not pay the money – as ordered by the High Court in Dublin – the authorities in Northern Ireland can be called in to seize property, including personal items such as cars.

The order also means that charges can be taken over bigger assets such as land and buildings, and ultimately receivers can take control if the liquidators can establish assets are owned by Mr Quinn.

Failure to pay the money ordered by the court could ultimately result in Mr Quinn being declared bankrupt.

The $188m (£123.5m) Peter Darragh Quinn must pay the bank is the "lost value" of the Kutuzoff Tower in Moscow, previously described as the family's most valuable asset, Mr Justice Peter Kelly was told in court.

Peter Darragh Quinn's own admissions as well as evidence provided to the court showed he was a "key initiator" of the scheme to unlawfully place a Russian company called Finansstroy, that owns the tower and other assets, into bankruptcy and beyond IBRC's reach, the judge said.

Three Russian firms were ordered to pay €252m (£214m), $239m (£157m) and $201m (£132m) damages respectively over their involvement in the scheme.

Those sums reflect the value of assets owned by other Russian companies in the IPG which the bank said were unlawfully assigned to the three defendant companies.

Mr Justice Kelly made the damages orders yesterday after entering judgment last February against Mr Quinn and four companies when they failed to enter defences or even make an appearance in court to answer the bank's case.

The bank has made similar claims of asset stripping against other Quinn family members and others who have entered defences to the case, the full hearing of which has been parked pending the completion of criminal proceedings against former senior executives of Anglo Irish Bank.

Mr Quinn was not in court yesterday. However, in a letter from him read by the judge yesterday, he sought an adjournment of the case pending appeals by him being made to the European Court of Human Rights and Supreme Court over the contempt of court orders.

Refusing the adjournment, the judge said Mr Quinn remained in "flagrant" contempt and the adjournment application was without merit.

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