DPP seeks to have Quinn family legal action deferred
Efforts by the the family of jailed businessman Seán Quinn to avoid liability for €2.4 billion in loans due to former Anglo Irish Bank have been put on hold as two new issues were raised in their legal action.
The Director of Public Prosecutions has asked to have the family’s case – listed for April 9th – deferred while the Quinns are considering applying to join the Central Bank (as regulator of Anglo) and the Department of Finance as co-defendants to their case alleging the loans were made by Anglo to Quinn companies for the unlawful purpose of propping up the bank’s share price.
The developments were notified yesterday to Mr Justice Peter Kelly who said they meant the trial could not now proceed in April.
Any move to join the Central Bank and Department of Finance would “change the whole landscape” and recast the case, he said. The action is expected to last at least nine months.
The judge heard the DPP, having seen legal documents in the family’s case, wrote to the bank last week saying she believed the family’s action raised issues overlapping with issues in forthcoming criminal proceedings (against former Anglo chairman Seán Fitzpatrick and two former executives of the bank, William McAteer and Pat Whelan).
A date for those proceedings has yet to be set but the case will be mentioned on January 23rd and the DPP hoped a judge would be appointed to case-manage it, the court heard.
The overlapping issues relate to alleged breaches of Section 60 of the Companies Act prohibiting a company advancing financial assistance to buy its own shares, it was stated.
If the family’s case is heard before the criminal proceedings, the DPP is concerned it could prejudice those proceedings. She therefore wants it deferred until after the criminal case.
The DPP did not want to interfere in the family’s case beyond ensuring the integrity of criminal proceedings was protected, Paul Anthony McDermott, for the DPP, said.
Niall McPartland, a son-in-law of Seán Quinn, said the family was “desperately disappointed” and “taken aback” with the DPP’s “late-stage” and “significant” intervention, made known to them just last Friday.
The family believed there was a “significant overlap” between the issues in the criminal proceedings and the separate “conspiracy” proceedings by the bank alleging various Quinn family members and companies conspired to strip assets from their international property group, he added.
The Quinns are also seeking to have the conspiracy proceedings deferred pending the outcome of their own action, and that application is listed for February.
Paul Gallagher SC, for Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (formerly Anglo), said the bank would not oppose the DPP’s application.