Peter Quinn cannot be forced to return if he has left State
THE AUTHORITIES in the Republic are powerless to force the return of Peter Darragh Quinn to the State to serve the sentence imposed on him by the High Court last week if he has left the jurisdiction.
Garda sources said last night a number of addresses in the Republic linked to him had been visited but there was no sign of him or any indication of where he might be.
If Mr Quinn were tracked down by police in the North where he resides, or in another country, it would be impossible to forcibly return him to the Republic because he has not committed a criminal offence.
“He had a sentence imposed on him for failing to comply with a civil order issued by the High Court, but that failure is not a criminal matter and extradition only applies to criminal matters,” said one legal source.
Another source pointed out that Mr Quinn, a nephew of Seán Quinn snr, effectively has “double immunity”. He said the European Arrest Warrant could only be used to force a person’s extradition to serve a sentence in another country if the sentence was for longer than the three months imposed on Mr Quinn last Friday.
This means Mr Quinn, with an address in Fermanagh, can only be brought before the High Court or committed to prison in the Republic to serve the sentence if he voluntarily presents himself to gardaí.
His cousin Seán Quinn was jailed for the same period of three months after the High Court ruled the pair, along with Seán Quinn snr had failed to adequately comply with court orders aimed at reversing measures stripping multi-million assets from the Quinn family’s international property group.
Miss Justice Elizabeth Dunne ruled later, while punitive sanction was a last resort, there had been an “outrageous” contempt of court and she was not happy with their level of co-operation to date to reverse the asset-stripping measures. After spending a night in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin, Seán Quinn jnr has been transferred to the training unit – a free association section of Mountjoy with a relaxed regime, albeit within the high-security perimeter walls of the Mountjoy campus.
Peter Darragh Quinn’s status is similar to that of solicitor Michael Lynn, who left Ireland with property-related liabilities of €80 million.
An arrest warrant was issued for Lynn after he failed to turn up in court. He is free to live abroad and move from country to country because the arrest warrant relates to contempt – a civil matter. He has never been charged with a criminal offence.
Lawyers for the Quinn family are expected to lodge formal appeals as early as today against the jailing of the two Quinns, as well as the contempt of court findings against both of them and Seán Quinn snr.
Mr Quinn yesterday remained defiant ahead of a Supreme Court appeal against the ruling, saying he supported steps taken by his family in fighting back against the former Anglo Irish Bank - now the the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) - as he “always” stood up to “bullies”.
In a statement to the Irish Mail on Sunday, Seán Quinn snr said: “As is well documented, the family have taken steps to fight back and I fully endorsed their actions. They are standing up to the bank that took everything from them.”
Expressing the Government’s support for the bank’s position, Minister of State for Finance Brian Hayes said it was determined that control of the assets in the case would be returned to Ireland. Mr Hayes, who had already raised the issue of the Quinn family’s assets with the Ukrainian authorities, said: “We are determined that these assets can come under the control of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation so that ultimately they can be given back to the Irish people.”
A Government spokesman said it had not raised the issue of the whereabouts of Peter Darragh Quinn with the Ukrainian authorities. He said that was a matter to be dealt with by the courts and the gardaí.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said in Donegal last night that everyone should respect the decision of the High Court in the Quinn case, including Peter Darragh Quinn.
“The court has made a decision and I think we should all respect the decision of the court,” he told reporters at the opening of the MacGill Summer School in Glenties.