Belfast Telegraph

Bankrupt Sean Quinn: I'm in clear over collapse of Anglo

By Laura Noonan

Former billionaire Sean Quinn has claimed he is in the clear after telling all to investigators probing the implosion of Anglo Irish Bank.

The Fermanagh-born businessman and his family have been blamed for helping trigger the bank's downfall after a disastrous share deal that resulted in losses of €3bn (£2.5bn).

But bankrupt Quinn said that shamed Anglo boss David Drumm used his family to artificially prevent the bank's share price from falling.

The businessman said Mr Drumm and former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick pressured him not to destabilise the bank by dumping his shares.

Last month Mr Quinn gave a full account of the massive stock market gamble to investigators at the Republic's Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. It is probing whether there was illegal activity at the bank in the run-up to its 2009 collapse.

Mr Quinn added that he was "very encouraged" by the investigators' assessment of the situation and he claimed it was "very different" to what was often reported in the media.

"The investigators I've met with understood the predicament (I was in)," Mr Quinn said. "They're not accusing us of being involved in anything (untoward)."

However, the bankers have claimed that they repeatedly tried to dissuade Mr Quinn from buying more shares, but were unsuccessful.

The ODCE is due to give more documents to the DPP within weeks, and Mr Quinn said he was expecting the investigation to conclude "soon". The findings may be called upon by Mr Quinn's family in an upcoming legal battle where they are trying to nullify €2.3bn (£2bn) of loans they say were advanced solely for the share debt.

But Mr Quinn said his family was "not thinking of" calling Mr Drumm in their upcoming case to give evidence about the circumstances of the loan.

Mr Quinn also blamed the Dublin government for heaping the burden of Anglo's losses on the Irish taxpayer.

Anglo has accused Mr Quinn's family of trying to deprive the taxpayer of cash by stripping millions out of international property companies - the Quinns deny this.

Mr Quinn stressed that he had borrowed money from a commercial bank and that it was the Irish government's decision, not his, for the state to assume Anglo's debts.

Mr Quinn has been sharply critical of the way the Quinn Group had performed since Anglo took control of it.

But he rejected suggestions he could have done more to encourage workers to row in behind the 'new Quinn'.

"I did (tell staff to come on board)," he said.

But he said he would not help the Quinn Group now even if he was asked, chiefly because of the difficult "personal relationships" between him and the group's new management.

The entrepreneur, who spent 38 years building up the Quinn Group, admitting his influence had been waning since April 2010 when banks and bondholders owed €1.3bn (£1bn) appointed restructuring expert Murdoch McKillop to the group.

"The day he (the restructuring expert) came in the show stopped," Mr Quinn said.

Anglo, Mr McKillop and the Quinn Group have all declined to comment.

Background

Sean Quinn ultimately ended up controlling about 28% of Anglo Irish Bank through financial instruments called contracts for difference (CFDs).

While 10% was later sold to 10 so-called 'Golden Circle' investors assembled by Anglo, Mr Quinn took 15% as a direct stake.

But the value of the entire investment was wiped out when Anglo was nationalised in 2009.

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