Belfast Telegraph

Quinn Industrial Holdings receive death threat telling bosses to quit company in 'last warning'

Kevin Lunney was abducted and seriously assaulted (Quinn Industrial Holdings/PA)
Kevin Lunney was abducted and seriously assaulted (Quinn Industrial Holdings/PA)

By Maeve Sheehan

The directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings have received a second death threat purporting to be a “last warning” to resign or face a “permanent solution”.

The threatening letter was issued on Bank Holiday Monday to the Irish News and conveyed to the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) by police late last night.

The anonymous authors claim responsibility for the abduction and savage assault last month on Mr Lunney, in a chilling taunt: “If we wanted, we could have killed him very easily.”

Mr Lunney was savagely beaten over two hours, had his leg broken, his face and chest slashed, was dumped on a Cavan roadside. He was warned that he and other directors would be shot if they didn’t resign

The new threatening letter tells the directors "you haven't learned your lesson after what happened to Kevin.”

It claims the former billionaire, Sean Quinn, who lost control of his companies in 2011, was “stabbed in the back”.

It threatens Cavan County Council staff, saying council workers or contractors who remove posters will be “targeted”. Illegal signs vilifying directors have been erected as part of a campaign of violence and intimidation against the new management of the company. The Sunday Independent revealed at the weekend that the local authority has refused to take them down because it fears for the safety of its staff.

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Gardai are treating the missive as a death threat to the five directors of QIH. They were informed by police forces on both sides of the border of the new threat late last night and gardai and the PSNI are tightening up security around their homes.

It says: “This is your last warning to resign to the Directors of QIH, obviously you haven’t learned your lesson after what happened to Kevin. If we wanted we could have killed him very easily. We want to put on record anybody that removes signs whether that be council employees or outside contractors will be targeted.  All of this will be brought to a conclusion very shortly. We have learned that there was repeated attempts made by Sean Quinn to talk to Senior Directors to bring about a solution and conclusion but the directors refuse to reply.

“Directors of QIH were given a mandate to hold the company in safe hands for the Quinn family until a position was put in place to buy it back.  The local Community won’t stand by any longer and see it continue in its current projectory [sic]. The Quinn Family that employed hundreds of people were stabbed in the back we have the capability and manpower to see this through until the end and achieve a permanent solution.”

Sean Quinn
Sean Quinn

The five directors are Kevin Lunney, chief operations officer; his brother, Tony Lunney, production director;  Liam McCaffrey, chief executive; Dara O’Reilly, chief finance officer; and John McCartin, non-executive director.

Police on both sides of the border are investigating the threats as part of an escalating violent and intimidatory campaign directed at ousting current management from the companies once owned by the former billionaire, Sean Quinn.

A forensic and technical examination to determine the letter’s provenance is underway.

Sources believe the style of the letter, the poor punctuation and grammatical mistake resemble an earlier anonymous letter sent to the company last May.  This letter also warned the directors to “resign” and warned of that there would be a “permanent solution” if they did not.

Sean Quinn developed a global empire from his companies in Ballyconnell and Derrylin but lost control in 2011, as a result of the group’s €2bn debts to the former Anglo-Irish Bank. A campaign of arson attacks and criminal damage has waged against the successive owners and management of the companies ever since.

Mr Quinn has repeatedly condemned these attacks, saying they were not carried out in his name, and he most recently condemned the attack on Kevin Lunney as “barbaric”, insisting that he had no hand, act or part in it.

Kevin Lunney horror attack
Kevin Lunney horror attack

The directors who are currently under threat helped Sean Quinn to get back into the company. Three American investors bought into the business, with Sean Quinn’s executive team running it.  Mr Quinn himself was hired as a consultant on a €500,000 a year contract but he left at the end of 2016 in acrimonious circumstances.

A memo published in the Sunday Independent last month, revealed how American private equity funds were concerned at Sean Quinn’s performance as a consultant in 2016, and had been told he was trying to acquire the company himself.

The memo said the investors were “increasingly uncomfortable with the escalating acts of violence and intimidation” on the company.

It continued that an advisor to Sean Quinn had been told that he needed to rectify his relationship with management and take an active approach to the “increasingly negative activity” if he was to be “bankable” in the finance community.

“The recent developments have done nothing but move Sean further away from his goal and, while obviously not positive for the business, are downright detrimental to Sean,” the memo said.

The Sunday Independent also revealed how Sean Quinn has been stepping up his efforts to get back to Quinn Industrial Holdings, in the mistaken belief that the company was to be sold.

In a letter, leaked to the Sunday Independent, Mr Quinn wrote to the American investors in May this year - the same month as the first anonymous threatening letter was sent to the company’s legal advisors.

Dated May 17 this year, Quinn wrote:

“When I first wrote to your board four years ago this month, and in subsequent letters and meetings since, I highlighted a number of issues I felt needed to be addressed, as well as a number of potential opportunities that lay ahead for the business. On reflection, perhaps my passion for the business, and my enthusiasm to ensure that it was successful, meant that my views were not always articulated in the most appropriate manner.”

“I am now writing to make you aware that the level of concern of the staff of the company, as well as the community generally, is at an all-time high regarding the future of the company.

Management feel that the review currently being carried out by the directors and S A Law [sic] is being done by stealth, and, as they are concerned about their jobs, the final report is unlikely to reflect their views.

“As I feel that I have the expertise, the good will and the raw materials that are necessary to make the company successful again, I would welcome a meeting with you at a date and time of your convenience. If you don’t have any interest, I will understand.”

In an interview with Channel 4 News two weeks ago, Sean Quin claimed that he has no interest in returning to the company since the attack on Kevin Lunney.

“I’m telling you a month ago, I still had ambitions to go back into those office and sort out the Quinn Group. Not today,” he said.

When asked why he has changed his position, he said: “Kevin Lunney.”

“People can say whatever they want about me but I don’t want to be seen as being the beneficiary of abuse or criminal activity,” he said.

Irish Independent

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