Quinns tell court they are at 'wits' end' with bank
MEMBERS OF the family of bankrupt businessman Seán Quinn have told the Commercial Court they are at their “wits’ end” dealing with the former Anglo Irish Bank, feel “crucified”, and want a mediation of the bitter legal dispute over the location of millions of euro of assets of the Quinn international property group.
The Quinns yesterday opposed an application by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, formerly Anglo, for a court cross-examination of the Quinn offspring and some of their extended family to establish if they have disclosed full details of asset-stripping measures.
The Quinns contend they have but the bank claims otherwise. That matter has been adjourned to November 29th.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said yesterday that, while he is a strong supporter of mediation, it was not appropriate at this stage given the bank’s opposition due to its belief the Quinns had not complied with court orders to fully disclose assets.
If mediation became an option later, he would do all he could to assist a mediated resolution.
Barry O’Donnell, for IBRC, said there was “no proper environment” for mediation. Some of the Quinns had sworn matters that turned out to be materially untrue and there continued to be “strong non-compliance” with disclosure orders.
It was wrong to say the bank had not engaged with the family. It had, but the engagement was “unproductive”. The bank had also set out in detail the failures of the Quinns in terms of compliance, he added.
Several of the family were in court, including Seán Quinn jnr, who was freed from Mountjoy Prison last Friday on expiry of a three-month detention period imposed for contempt of court orders of June/July 2011 restraining asset stripping.
Speaking on behalf of the Quinns, Niall McPartland, a son-in-law of Mr Quinn, objected to cross-examination and said mediation was a cheaper and faster way of addressing the issues.
The family had told the bank “for the past year and a half” that “we do not have the assets and we can’t get them”, he said.
“We are at our wits’ end” and in a very difficult position, he said. They had offered to assist the bank in its effort to recover assets. It had not taken that up and the “constant bombardment” of court orders was not helping.
While the Quinns accept they have questions to answer in the general litigation, a Supreme Court judge said earlier this week the bank also had questions to answer, he said.
The impression was being given that it was “all the Quinns’ fault” but there was “more going on than meets the eye” and the bank would not have to answer questions as long as it pursued efforts to jail the Quinns. The bank had not spelt out exactly what deficiencies were being alleged against the Quinns, he said. That was not acceptable as any cross-examination could lead to “grave consequences” such as contempt proceedings and possibly incarceration.
The judge said the application at this stage was to cross-examine and any further application would have to be made on notice. Any contempt claims would have to be based on clearly defined allegations.
Mr McPartland said the bank’s “sinister” cross-examination application served a dual purpose in letting it “have a go” at the family in the witness box before the hearing of the main action. (In the main action, Patricia Quinn and her offspring dispute liability for some €2.34 billion in loans advanced by Anglo to Quinn companies on grounds those loans were unlawfully made to prop up the bank’s share price).
He indicated the Quinns may apply to see some 26,000 documents salvaged by the bank from an alleged deliberately damaged server of a computer of a Russian firm that owns the most valuable asset in the international property group, the Kutuzoff Tower in Moscow.
It seemed to be suggested the Quinns damaged that server. That was “categorically denied” and the family believed the bank was selectively exhibiting documents from those salvaged, he said.