Belfast Telegraph

Quinns vow to keep up the fight as tycoon is released from prison

By John Mulgrew

One of bankrupt billionaire Sean Quinn’s daughters has hit back at comments from the chief of the family’s former companies that they will never regain control of them.

The Quinns are set to challenge Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) on its takeover of their business, arguing that sums owed to the bank had in fact been loaned “illegally” in order to prop up the bank’s share price.

Paul O’Brien, the chief executive of the Quinn Group since April 2011, said the manufacturing business was “fine” and there was no “going back”.

“Even if they won the case, they don’t get their companies back. It is only a claim for damages. That is a big misunderstanding,” Mr O’Brien told The Impartial Reporter newspaper.

However, Sean Quinn’s daughter Colette hit back at some of Mr O’Brien’s comments and claimed that banks and bondholders had benefited from the “takeover”.

His other daughter Ciara also said the family were not giving up the fight.

Mr Quinn said he fears he may have to return to jail after being released from prison yesterday, having served a nine-week sentence for contempt of court.

The fallen billionaire walked free from Dublin’s Mountjoy Prison yesterday morning and was driven to his family home in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan.

The 66-year-old had been jailed for contempt and sentenced to nine weeks amid allegations of a plan to put his family's €500m (£400m) international property empire beyond the reach of the former Anglo Irish Bank.

He and his family have been involved in a continued legal dispute with the bank — now known as the IBRC.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Quinn said the worst thing about his time behind bars was being confined for long periods.

“I found it tough,” he said.

“The staff were very good, very professional, but when you find the door slamming at nine at night it’s not nice.”

Mr Quinn said his time in jail had been a “learning experience” and that he had received a “very positive” response from fellow inmates.

“A hundred per cent of them felt I shouldn’t be there,” the bankrupt tycoon claimed.

“I certainly felt I shouldn’t be there.”

Background

Sean Quinn was jailed in November for not purging his contempt in the High Court for his role in an asset-stripping plot. High Court judge Elizabeth Dunne found that Quinn, his son Sean Quinn jnr and nephew Peter Darragh Quinn consciously defied and misled the courts.

Sean Quinn jnr also served time in jail while Peter Darragh Quinn, son of former GAA president Peter Quinn, remains on the run after he fled to Northern Ireland.

A family at war with the Irish taxpayer...

By Margaret Canning

Q Is the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) any closer to securing Quinn assets to cover what the family owes it?

A IBRC has been battling to claw back around €500m (£405m) in assets thought to have been concealed overseas by the family.

These assets include a Kiev shopping centre which is thought to be worth around $60m (£37m).

All the bank would say on the subject yesterday was that its aim remains to maximise returns on behalf of the Irish taxpayer.

The bank — formerly known as Anglo Irish Bank — is now fully owned by the Irish tax-payer after it was bailed out in 2010.

Q What next for Sean Quinn’s on-the-run nephew Peter Darragh Quinn?

A Peter Quinn — the son of Sean Quinn’s brother Peter — also received a prison sentence for contempt, along with Sean and his son Sean jnr.

He and his cousin were recorded plotting against IBRC with Peter saying he would lie in court if necessary.

But instead of going to prison, Peter fled to Northern Ireland, where he remains.

He has been photographed enjoying his freedom north of the border, where the bench warrant for his arrest cannot be enforced. However, if he returns to the Republic he can be arrested.

Q What next for Sean and Sean jnr?

A Both have now served their sentences for contempt, as Sean jnr was also jailed for three months over the summer and released from prison in October. He has offered to sell the large apartment where he lives with his wife Karen Woods — who was also on the Quinn Group payroll with a salary of €320,000 (£259,000)— near Phoenix Park, Dublin, to demonstrate his willingness to purge contempt.

But there will be more trying times ahead for them in 2013 as a case brought by the family against the bank is also coming to court.

The Quinns claim the €2.3bn (£1.9bn) which the bank alleges it owes was in fact loaned “illegally” to the group to prop up its share price.

The family acknowledge that they owe the bank around €0.4bn (£0.3bn).

Sean has also admitted that he could well be returning to prison.

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