Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Border loophole has to shut immediately

We have been given yet another fascinating glimpse in the labyrinthine business dealings of the Quinn family as the former Anglo Irish Bank - now known as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation - continues to seek the family's international property assets.

According to claims in a Dublin court, four of Sean Quinn snr's children, the now wife of one of them, and a nephew were to receive millions of euros in payments if their contracts with property holding companies in Russia were ever terminated.

The bank alleges these were complex arrangements to put assets which are rightly owed to the bank beyond its reach, but this is denied by the family. Whatever the truth of the matter, it shows how different is the world of the mega-rich from that occupied by the vast majority of us.

There are jaw-dropping lottery-sized sums of money tied up in wondrously involved business deals beyond the understanding of most of us. What we can grasp is that the loans taken out by people like Sean Quinn snr helped the economy of the Republic collapse when the property market imploded and its repercussions are still being felt on this side of the border also.

The Dublin court case involves an appeal by Sean Quinn jnr against his jailing for contempt of court for his alleged part in trying to put assets beyond reach of the bank. His cousin, Peter Darragh Quinn, who, it is claimed was also to benefit from the Russian contracts, dodged jail by returning to Northern Ireland. He cannot be extradited because contempt is a civil, not a criminal, matter.

His continued liberty is an embarrassment to the legal systems on both sides of the border.

Ideally he should do the honourable thing and submit himself to the Dublin court, however painful the consequences might be.

He can live quite openly in the province because of a legal technicality. Certainly the legal minds on both sides of the border should seek ways of closing this loophole, which brings back memories of the bad old days when terrorists were also able to escape justice for the flimsiest of reasons.

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