Belfast Telegraph

Tycoon Sean Quinn is dealt a bitter blow

By Dearbhail McDonald

The former Anglo Irish Bank is poised for an imminent move to bankrupt Sean Quinn in the Republic and put Ireland's former richest man out of business for up to 12 years.

Now known as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), formerly Anglo, it successfully overturned a bankruptcy order Mr Quinn obtained in Northern Ireland in November.

Mr Quinn yesterday denied that he "deceived" the High Court in Belfast about his business links to Fermanagh after his Quinn Group fell under the control of an IBRC-appointed receiver.

The denial came after a judge ruled a £50-a-month office lease had been prepared at a much later date to "try and bolster" the ex-tycoon's fast-track bankruptcy.

Mr Quinn had earlier argued that the lease proved he was operating from an office block in Fermanagh since May 2011 - weeks after a share receiver had been appointed to the Quinn Group .

The IBRC has repeatedly denied that its legal challenge to his Northern bankruptcy is vindictive or motivated by a desire to put Mr Quinn out of business for a lengthy period.

The bank told the High Court in Belfast that it was motivated to annul Mr Quinn's bankruptcy to save the Irish taxpayer legal costs in Northern Ireland.

The bank is trying to gain control of the estimated €500m (£410m) property portfolio of the Quinn family in simultaneous legal proceedings in Ireland, Russia, Ukraine, India and Cyprus.

If the IBRC succeeds in bankrupting him south of the border, Mr Quinn - who has vowed to return to business following the collapse of his empire - will be barred from acting as a company director for up to 12 years.

Mr Quinn, who says he is insolvent, did not reveal who is funding his litigation.

As well as his own legal bills, he must now pay the IBRC's, which run into hundreds of thousands of euro.

The IBRC has already obtained judgments of €2.16bn (£1.78bn) against Mr Quinn in the Commercial Court in Dublin.

It has also issued a pre-emptive bankruptcy summons against Mr Quinn in the Republic, in the event that it won its Belfast appeal.

That summons is being challenged by Mr Quinn and both cases will be heard by the High Court in Dublin next Monday.

Yesterday, lawyers for the bank said in Dublin that it wanted the case brought forward a full week before it was due to be heard.

This is because it has concerns that Mr Quinn might attempt to remove "unencumbered assets" and put them beyond the reach of the bank before the hearing takes place.

Just hours earlier Mr Justice Donnell Deeny annulled Mr Quinn's Belfast bankruptcy order.

Mr Justice Deeny rejected Mr Quinn's claims that his main centre of interest was in Northern Ireland.

He also questioned why Mr Quinn, an Irish passport holder who lives and votes in the Republic of Ireland, did not disclose these facts when he applied for bankruptcy in Belfast.

Mr Justice Deeny said he did not think he could safely conclude that this and other matters were a deliberate attempt to deceive on the part of Mr Quinn, but he found it was a sufficient ground for him to exercise his discretion to annul the bankruptcy.

Outside the court Mr Quinn denied he had ever sought to mislead anyone and said he had always worked in Northern Ireland.

He claimed that he had never "done a day's work from southern Ireland in my life" nor used his home, which is just south of the border in Co Cavan, as an office.

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