Belfast Telegraph

From Belize to Kiev, the complex web at heart of Sean Quinn court action

By Victoria O'Hara

He was once known for creating thousands of jobs and generating millions of pounds in his native Northern Ireland and across the Republic.

Fermanagh businessman Sean Quinn — who was once Ireland’s richest man with a fortune estimated at £3.7bn — had a vast international property and investments portfolio.

Declared bankrupt in January, Mr Quinn was stripped of control of his manufacturing business empire last April over billion-pound debts. The 65-year-old owes €2.8bn (£2.2bn) to Anglo Irish Bank, and left Irish taxpayers to face paying off his massive liabilities.

A complex global web of companies linked to his family empire has emerged during Belfast and Dublin court cases involving the Quinns and their business dealings.

Sean Quinn, his son Sean Quinn jnr and the former billionaire’s nephew Peter Quinn were accused of contempt of court.

The proceedings were taken by IBRC — the former Anglo Irish Bank — over alleged “asset-stripping”. It is fighting a legal battle for control of Mr Quinn's international empire as part of its attempt to recoup the huge amount of money it is owed.

The bank deployed a team of offshore asset-recovery experts as part of its bid to unravel the Quinn family's complex corporate structures, which control assets in Russia and Ukraine.

Sean Quinn jnr and Peter Quinn — who strenuously deny any wrongdoing — and Mr Quinn have denied he was the chief orchestrator of alleged moves to put international property assets beyond the reach of the former Anglo Irish Bank. This concerns businesses, property and ventures across the globe including England, Prague, Belize, Kiev, Moscow and Sweden and the British Virgin Islands.

The bank claims the three acted in contempt of court orders of June and July 2011 restraining them from placing assets in the Quinn international property group beyond the bank's reach.

All three say, while there was a plan to prevent the bank moving against assets, no steps to further that were taken after the orders were made. The firm Lyndhurst Development, registered in the British Virgin Islands, was prohibited from enforcing any loan agreement or dealing with debts surrounding a mall in Kiev under the terms of an emergency injunction granted in Belfast in the early hours of December 23, 2011.

The Anglo Irish Bank discontinued its legal action against the Quinn family's Swedish property group — Quinn Investments Sweden (QIS) — after the group's bankruptcy made an action against it pointless.

The bank is the main creditor of Quinn Investments Sweden, so continuing to sue QIS would be akin to IBRC suing itself, and QIS has now been excluded from the action.

Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne was told during the court case that on an assessment of the evidence she would be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the Quinns breached the court orders made in June and July last year.

But the Quinns claim any steps they took in relation to putting the assets beyond the reach of the bank were taken before the injunctions were granted.

They say they do not have any knowledge of anything about steps taken afterwards.

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