Court continues orders freezing Quinn assets
A HIGH Court judge has continued orders restraining the children of bankrupt businessman Seán Quinn, a nephew, two sons- in-law and a number of international companies, from dealing with assets owned or controlled by them worldwide below €50 million each.
The Quinn defendants will be allowed €2,000 living expenses each until the injunction orders return to court next Wednesday, plus legal and perhaps some domestic expenses subject to formal approval by the court.
The Irish Bank Resolution Corporation had secured interim freezing orders last week in an effort to protect up to €400 million of assets in the Quinn international property group (IPG).
Bill Shipsey SC, for the Quinns, yesterday neither consented to nor opposed the injunctions continuing but indicated his clients would dispute the bank’s entitlement to those freezing orders at a hearing likely to be held next month.
Mr Shipsey also said his clients may seek additional funds to meet pressing domestic expenses, including repair of a roof, and they had legal expenses in various jurisdictions, including Russia and Ukraine.
Brian Murray SC, for the bank, said it was only prepared at this stage to consent to fees to lawyers in Cyprus for the Quinn side for the purpose of addressing the bank’s forthcoming application to discharge an order referring to the European Court of Justice a jurisdictional issue in Cypriot proceedings brought by the Quinns.
Mr Murray indicated the bank would be reluctant to approve payments of other international lawyers engaged by the Quinns but it would address that and other issues in correspondence with the Quinn lawyers.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly continued to June 27th the orders freezing assets owned or controlled worldwide by the five children – Aoife, Ciara, Colette, Brenda and Seán jnr; Mr Quinn’s nephew Peter Darragh Quinn and two sons-in-law, Stephen Kelly and Niall McPartland, and several companies – below €50 million each, except for living expenses of €2,000.
He said any application to vary those orders to meet particular expenses, even where the variation was consented to by the bank, would have to be mentioned to the court and formally approved.
He adjourned for a week IBRC’s application to transfer to the Commercial Court the proceedings against the Quinn defendants and several companies based in Belize, Panama, Russia and United Arab Emirates.
The bank claims the companies have co-operated with the Quinns in stripping assets from the IPG. There was no appearance on behalf of those companies yesterday apart from a receiver representing one of them.
Mr Shipsey said he would oppose the transfer application on grounds including the bank’s delay in seeking to transfer its proceedings issued a year ago against the Quinn defendants to protect IPG assets. He believed the bank may not have applied to transfer the case before now for “tactical reasons” but he wanted an opportunity to put that and other matters on affidavit.
Mr Murray said the Quinns were well-equipped to resist the transfer application and had been involved in this case for more than a year.
Mr Justice Kelly said delay was a factor he took into account in considering whether to transfer cases to the Commercial Court list and he also noted the “tactical reasons” claim.
He would give the Quinn side an opportunity to outline its opposition to transfer. He would deal with that next Wednesday as well as the application to further continue the freezing orders until the issue of the bank’s entitlement to those freezing orders is decided.
In seeking the freezing orders last week, IBRC argued they were necessary because the bank believed the Quinns had “misappropriated” assets from the IPG as part of a scheme to frustrate the bank’s efforts to recover loans of up to €2.8 billion against them and were prepared to dispose of those assets.
The proceedings are by IBRC and Quinn Investments Sweden, one of the main holding companies in the IPG which was placed into bankruptcy on IBRC’s application last July, plus the bankruptcy receiver, Leif Baecklund. QIS was joined as a plaintiff on grounds the alleged scheme had substantially deprived QIS of its assets.
In separate proceedings, Patricia Quinn and her children, who have owned the Quinn companies since 2002, claim they are not liable for loans of €2.8 billion made by Anglo to Quinn companies because those loans were unlawfully made to prop up the bank’s share price.