Belfast Telegraph

Tycoon fails to lift bank freeze

Bankrupt tycoon Sean Quinn and his family have lost a court challenge to lift orders freezing their bank accounts below 50 million euro.

The High Court in Dublin ruled in favour of liquidators for the former Anglo Irish Bank, but ordered them to lodge five million euro to cover damages if the Quinns defeat the bank in an upcoming hearing.

The Quinn family had claimed the actions of the bank, rebranded as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) and now in liquidation, had adversely affected the value of assets in its International Property Group.

Judge Michael Peart said he was satisfied that the "balance of convenience" remains in favour of leaving in place the orders which restrained the family from dealing with assets of a number of Quinn companies. Sean Quinn, his son Sean junior and nephew Peter Darragh Quinn were previously found guilty of conspiring to put assets beyond the reach of the bank.

"In the circumstances of this case, where the injunctions were sought because the personal defendants had taken steps to remove assets, the balance of convenience is clearly in favour of the injunctions remaining in place in order to ensure that such unlawful activity would not resume," the judge ruled.

"The fact that the personal defendants claim that the loans are illegal does not mean that they can decide for themselves that the assets should not be available to the receiver lawfully appointed. If they have a point on the legality of the loans, that issue must be determined by the courts."

The injunctions were secured in 2011 against Quinn, his five children, their three partners and several named companies. The Quinn family and associated firms had sought to have them discharged on the basis that the undertakings as to damages were worthless once IBRC became insolvent, making it unable to pay its debts and in liquidation.

They also argued the undertakings being lodged are "hopelessly inadequate" as they claim the potential value of their firms are 100 times the five million euro offered.

The judge refused the application but ordered the plaintiffs - IBRC (in special liquidation), Quinn Investments, Sweden, and Leif Baecklund - to lodge the five million euro in court to fortify undertakings they had previously given to the court as to damages.

Last November Quinn senior was jailed for nine weeks for not purging his contempt in the High Court for his role in an asset-stripping plot. His son Sean junior and his nephew Peter Darragh were also sentenced for contempt after they attempted to put a multimillion-euro asset portfolio beyond the reach of the IBRC.

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