Jailing of Quinn jnr unlawful, court told
THE JAILING of the son of bankrupt businessman Seán Quinn for contempt of orders restraining the stripping of multi-million international property assets was wrong in law and ordered in a manner for which there was no precedent in the courts here, the Supreme Court was told yesterday.
The High Court also erred in jailing Seán Quinn jnr for the improper purpose of putting pressure on his father to reverse measures to put multimillion assets beyond the reach of the former Anglo Irish Bank, Brian O’Moore SC said.
Mr Quinn jnr was effectively jailed indefinitely for failing to comply with more than 30 coercive orders concerning a whole series of asset-stripping measures in which it was not alleged he was involved, Mr O’Moore argued.
Mr Quinn could not be jailed on foot of claims he was part of a conspiracy by members of the Quinn family to put assets beyond the reach of the bank, he added.
The bank had made a claim of contempt of the asset restraint orders against Mr Quinn and the High Court had found him guilty of contempt in that regard but could not proceed to jail him indefinitely for not reversing other asset-stripping measures, according to Mr O’Moore.
There was also nothing in new evidence being advanced by the bank to the Supreme Court to support the continued detention of Mr Quinn, he said. That evidence related to a DVD recording of a meeting in Kiev allegedly attended by Mr Quinn and to alleged asset-stripping from Russian companies.
The sole finding of contempt against Mr Quinn arose from the High Court finding he facilitated a payment of $500,000 to the general director of Quinn Properties Ukraine, Larissa Puga, around the time of the takeover of that company by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, formerly Anglo, in late August 2011, Mr O’Moore outlined. However, the bank had advanced no purpose for the sanctioning of such a payment by the Quinns.
Bill Shipsey SC, also for Mr Quinn, said the order jailing him arose from a finding of contempt but he was also jailed for failing to comply with coercive orders that went “way beyond” the finding of contempt against him.
A three-month sentence was imposed for the finding of contempt but it also appeared he was jailed indefinitely in a move to secure compliance with the coercive orders.
The appeal by Mr Quinn against the finding of contempt and decision jailing him opened yesterday before a five-judge Supreme Court.
Mr Quinn, who has been detained in the training unit of Mountjoy Prison since July 20th, was permitted to attend the appeal and was accompanied by his wife Karen Woods and brother-in-law Niall McPartland.
Mike Aynsley, chief executive of IBRC, which is pursuing the Quinn family over loans of some €2.8 billion, was also in court.
Mr Quinn was jailed over what the High Court found was “outrageous” contempt of court orders restraining the Quinn family from putting property assets valued at up to €500 million beyond the reach of IBRC.
In his appeal, he contends he was not in contempt of those orders of June and July 2011 and, even if he was, it was disproportionate to jail him in the context of the court’s limited findings of contempt in his case.
Last June, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne made one finding of contempt against Mr Quinn and made additional findings of contempt against Seán Quinn snr and his nephew, Peter Darragh Quinn.
She made the jailing orders on July 20th after finding all three failed to comply adequately with the coercive orders made by her aimed at unwinding the asset-stripping scheme. She indicated she was sending Seán Quinn jnr and Peter Darragh Quinn to jail for three months but, if the coercive orders were still not complied with, they might remain there indefinitely.
A warrant was issued for Peter Darragh Quinn’s arrest but it remains unexecuted as he continues to live Northern Ireland.