Quinn Ukraine payment cannot be undone, court told
A SECRET recording of a meeting in Ukraine attended by Seán Quinn jnr, his cousin Peter and some Ukrainians showed a “torrid row” about money and made clear the Quinns cannot reverse a controversial US$500,000 payment over which Seán Quinn jnr was jailed, his lawyer argued yesterday.
The US$500,000 payment was allegedly made to Larissa Puga, general director of Quinn Properties Ukraine (QPU), and the video made clear, whatever relations previously existed between the Quinns and Ms Puga, they were “at daggers drawn” on January 21st, 2012, when the meeting was recorded, Brian O’Moore SC said.
His client cannot be left to languish in jail indefinitely over failure to reverse that and other alleged transactions stripping assets from the Quinn family’s international property group, which he could not reverse, counsel argued.
Even if the inability to reverse the transaction was the result of his client’s own actions, which was denied, that could not be a basis for keeping him in prison, he added.
The flaws in the jailing order were not technical, counsel argued. The effect was Seán Quinn jnr unlawfully remained in jail indefinitely until he purged his contempt by complying with 30 coercive orders to reverse other asset-stripping transactions that involved no allegation against him and that he simply could not reverse.
It was not permissible to jail his client for failure to comply with 30 other orders when he was found in contempt on one issue only – the Puga payment, counsel said.
Nor could he be jailed on the basis of a view he was part of an overall strategy by his family to put multimillion assets beyond the reach of the bank.
He was making submissions on the second day of Seán Quinn jnr’s appeal against a High Court ruling that he was in contempt of orders restraining asset-stripping on grounds he participated in the payment to Ms Puga around late August 2011 just as QPU was about to be taken over by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, which claims to be owed €2.8 billion by Quinn companies.
Mr O’Moore said the video recording of the Ukrainian meeting made clear his client could not reverse the $500,000 payment to Mr Puga. The Quinns owned just 15 per cent of QPU, with the rest owned by their neighbours and relatives, he added.
It was clear the recording was by an unknown person hostile to the Quinns, it was argued, and they objected to it being viewed by the High Court on grounds it was only a 15-minute record of the hour-long meeting in January 2012 and was not proven in evidence. However, the DVD was admitted.
That objection was not being pursued in the appeal as they could not “unscramble the omelette” and because the DVD supported Seán Quinn jnr’s description of that meeting as “hostile”, counsel said. The High Court erred in finding that his client participated in the payment to Ms Puga as there was no evidence to support that finding, he argued.
The DVD, published by the Mail on Sunday last July, showed the two Quinns arguing about money with Ms Puga and two unidentified men, he said. The High Court had wrongly found the DVD did not support his client’s claims of a collapse in relations with Ms Puga.
Seán Quinn jnr, detained in the Training Unit of Mountjoy Prison since July 20th last, has been permitted to attend the appeal and was in court yesterday with his wife Karen, brother-in-law Niall McPartland and some supporters.
The appeal continues today until lunchtime, when it is expected to be adjourned to resume at another date.