Belfast Telegraph

Sean Quinn's gold... sensational claims over tycoon's assets

Secret deals alleged, but family says it hid nothing

By Derbhail McDonald

Sean Quinn's family bought over £240m of gold offshore and instructed a financial advisor to transfer £160m from a bank account in Dubai to the Virgin Islands, two informants have told the former Anglo Irish Bank.

The informants, who are said to be at "substantial risk" because of on-going attacks against the former Quinn Group and its staff, also told Anglo that the Quinns had enlisted a series of "agents" to help them put assets beyond the bank's reach.

The alleged agents include a "travelling fixer", a man of Indian/Pakistani origin who travels first class, stays in five-star hotels and has access to large sums of cash.

A local businessman in Cavan is also alleged by the informants to have been the "secret cash dispenser" who "oiled the wheels" of the Quinns' "assets beyond reach" programme.

The informants' sensational claims were revealed hours after the US courts lifted a gagging order on the latest efforts by the IBRC (formerly Anglo) to trace hundreds of millions worth of assets the bank claims were put beyond its reach by the family of the Fermanagh-born former billionaire.

Yesterday, lawyers for the Joint Special Liquidators (JLS) of the IBRC told the High Court in Dublin that the liquidators had struck a deal with the two informants.

The identities of the informants have not been disclosed to the UK, Irish or American courts and the IBRC is not claiming that the risks to the informants comes from the Quinns personally.

It is understood that the informants, who will receive 3% of any cash recovered on foot of their information, have not yet received any payments.

The IBRC acted on the informants' claims after conducting due diligence on documentary evidence provided to the bank by the duo through their solicitor.

The informants approached the IBRC on February 7, 2013, hours after the Irish parliament voted to liquidate it.

Last February the IBRC secured secret orders in the Commercial Court in London against Investec Bank and one of its employees in relation to the alleged gold and money transfer claims.

The informants alleged that the Quinns instructed an employee of Investec to buy £243m (€300m) of gold.

But Investec was unable to identify any transactions of the nature alleged by the informants and it transpired that the Investec employee had no connection with the Quinn family.

However, the IBRC said that information obtained from internet giant Yahoo UK Ltd in respect of an email believed to be used by the Quinns' Russian contact tallied, in some respects, with the original documentation provided by the informants.

This tallying led the Special Liquidators to seek corresponding court orders last March in the US for orders against Yahoo Inc, AOL and mail.com. On the foot of those secret orders, the IBRC recorded email traffic between specific email addresses including the Russian "Andrei" address.

The bank contends that a very large number of those emails are directly relevant to the alleged Quinn scheme.

The informants said that an email address recovered by the bank, nigel.smith@london.com was "an alias address used by the Quinn family".

In particular, it said that there were a large number of emails between the "Andrei" email address and Michael Waechter, a Swiss-born financial guru who has repeatedly denied having connection with the alleged scheme and assets formerly owned by the Quinns in Russia.

The email traffic between June 2012 and February 2014 also included emails to an address used by Peter Daragh Quinn, Sean Quinn snr's nephew and former head of their international property group.

The US gagging order and court seal expired at 5am yesterday.

And at 11am, unknown to the Quinns, the IBRC presented the new information to the Commercial Court in Dublin.

High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly thanked Senior Counsel Paul Gallagher, for IBRC, for the update.

The Quinns, who insist they have disclosed all their assets as required by court orders, were unaware of the bank's international forays to secure new information.

Last night a family spokesperson said that the family had disclosed all relevant assets.

The IBRC told Judge Kelly that it hoped to get the actual content of much of the emails next week by way of the US courts.

The Quinns, whose assets have been frozen by court order – and can not reduce their wealth below £40m – are due before the Commercial Court in Dublin next week.

They are due in court as the receiver over their assets has been seeking explanations from members of Mr Quinn's family about transactions involving the movement of substantial sums between national and international accounts.

Sean Quinn, once the richest man in Ireland, filed for bankruptcy in 2011 over the debt owed to Anglo.

The father-of-five was born in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, and built his substantial business empire, on both sides of the border, from a gravel and cement business. He currently lives in Co Cavan.

Alleged agents... what the informants claimed

An original document provided to the IBRC by the two informants was exhibited in a Dublin court yesterday. The informants claimed the Quinns had decided by 2012 to put assets beyond reach and enlisted a number of agents to help.

Agent 1: The bank employee

  • The bank was told by the informants that the Quinns instructed an Investec bank employee – who was introduced by friends – to purchase €300m (£240m) in gold, and that this transaction was conducted in Dubai and Fiji.
  • The informants also claimed that the Investec employee was further commissioned to cause €200m (£160m) to be transferred from HSBC bank in Dubai to the Virgin Islands.
  • However, Investec identified no transactions of the nature alleged and the employee had no connection with the Quinn family.

Agent 2: The travelling fixer

  • The informants claimed the Quinns recruited a man of Indian or Pakistani origin to act as their "travelling fixer".
  • The informants said that the fixer travels first class, stays in five-star hotels and was given access to large sums of cash.
  • His alleged duties included paying officials in different countries to "do what was necessary to benefit the Quinns' programme".

Agent 3: The secret cash dispenser

  • The third alleged agent is said by the informants to be a long-term personal and business friend from Cavan.
  • The IBRC says his role was to act as the Quinns' "secret cash dispenser" of hundreds of thousands of euro to "oil the wheels of their [the Quinn's] 'assets beyond reach' programme, thereby leaving the principals with a clean hands situation".

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