The winners and losers of 2012
The information had been sent by former portfolio manager Enda Farrell to, among others, his wife, Alice Kramer, an auditor at Ernst and Young. The couple had bought a four-bedroom house and two acres of land in Lucan, Co Dublin, from developer Thomas Dowd – a Nama debtor – while Farrell was working at Nama.
With the “extensive” misappropriation of data sparking a formal complaint to the Garda, Farrell and Kramer would be forgiven for suffering a modicum of buyer’s regret.
Speaking of regrets, what was Seán Quinn’s greatest? Could it possibly be his original punt on Anglo shares via the gamblers’ financial instrument of choice, contracts-for-difference? Could it be that, five years later, he was still feeling the after-effects of Ciara Quinn’s 6ft wedding cake?
“My biggest regret in all this is not challenging the provisional appointment of the administrators ,” he said in August. He and his family had been “completely sidelined” by the administrators who he claimed had “set about destroying one of the most profitable companies in Irish corporate history”.
History was the apposite word. In 2012, a year spent trying to put assets beyond the reach of the courts, Quinn and his son Seán Quinn jnr both lost their liberty.
“In my view, he has only himself to blame,” said Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne bluntly as she handed down a nine-week sentence to Quinn snr for contempt in early November. He was granted a compassionate temporary release for Christmas.
His son, while not quite a long-timer, had earlier served three months in Mountjoy’s Training Unit. It was GAA season, meaning the roar of the Croke Park crowds wafted through the walls, he later plaintively noted to Ryan Tubridy as the inevitable spot on the Late Late Show beckoned.
Quinn snr’s nephew Peter Darragh Quinn proved even less enamoured with the Republic than the O’Donnells proclaimed to be – his status as a fugitive in Northern Ireland prompted the creation of Irish Pictorial Weekly’s recurring sketch, Border Walks with Peter Darragh Quinn. At the start of the year, the real Peter Darragh Quinn had starred alongside Seán Quinn jnr in a secretly filmed video, on which they discussed a multimillion-euro cash deal in Kiev despite the fact that the Quinn family were under court orders not to transfer assets from the Quinn property group.
“I’d have to lie to the court,” laughed Quinn’s nephew on the tape, published by MailOnline in July. “That wouldn’t overly concern me.” It was fair to say that Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne was concerned about such behaviour.
But could the rest of the Quinn family really be labelled losers? Surely Russian bank accounts are only for winners.
In August, documents retrieved from the broken hard-drives and back-up server at the offices of Russian property management company Finansstroy, to which IBRC had an administrator appointed, detailed the existence of employment contracts for all of the Quinn children apart from Brenda Quinn. The contracts provided for six-figure salaries and multi-million dollar severance payments. They were contracts with a difference, you might say.
There is, sadly, no ambiguity about the final pick of 2012’s losers.
“It’s sort of like the tide,” said then Independent News and Media chief executive Gavin O’Reilly in March, when asked about his unwanted business adversary, INM shareholder Denis O’Brien.
“Denis O’Brien has been very vocal, particularly in the last six months, that he wants regime change at INM. It’s almost reminiscent of Mr Bush and Iraq.”
O’Reilly was Iraq in this analogy, and the tanks had already rolled onto his lawn.
In April, he resigned from INM with an exit package of €1.87 million. It was “the end of an era”, noted Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte, matter-of-factly. O’Reilly was succeeded by Vincent Crowley, who coincidentally was the man O’Brien had suggested would make “an ideal replacement” in a July 2011 letter to former INM chairman Brian Hillary – or so it emerged in documents supplied to the High Court during a case taken by former director of corporate affairs Karl Brophy.
Cast changes on the board of INM culminated in August with the return of O’Brien’s lieutenant Leslie Buckley, who had been forced off after a shareholder vote just a year earlier. With the chairman’s seat vacant since the June ousting of James Osborne, who else but Buckley was the man for the job?
There was another twist in the soap opera come November, when Colm Delves, chief executive of O’Brien’s Caribbean-based mobile phone company Digicel, bought O’Reilly’s eight-bedroom house in Dalkey for just over €3 million. It’s still a buyer’s market then.
Some of the winners...
Notwithstanding the tanking of INM shares – down about 80 per cent this year – Denis O’Brien heads our list of winners simply for completing his chosen mission of seeing off Gavin O’Reilly at INM, getting his lieutenant Leslie Buckley back where he wanted him as company chairman, and – despite increasing his INM stake to 29.9 per cent – avoiding having to sell a scintilla of his other Irish media interests.