Quinns ready for next scene in legal saga
Family want move to protect cash and property until action against IBRC decided
Seán Quinn snr at the Four Courts earlier this year. His family is engaged in a marathon legal battle with the former Anglo Irish Bank. Photograph: Alan Betson
Another round of the marathon legal battle between the family of bankrupt former billionaire Sean Quinn and State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation kicks off next month, with a crucial application by the family to “ring-fence” all the assets in the entire Quinn group.
The litigation is now well into its third year, is likely to run for at least another two, and has ratcheted up legal costs conservatively estimated at about €30 million so far.
The non-legal costs bill will be much higher if it includes a $137 million (€101 million) sum the Quinns claim IBRC has agreed to pay to a Russian assets recovery specialist firm.
IBRC special liquidator Kieran Wallace has said in affidavits in previous hearings that IBRC has had little success to date in recovering assets in the family’s international property group.
The full hearing of the two central sets of proceedings has been deferred pending the completion of criminal proceedings against former executives of Anglo Irish Bank but pre-trial applications are continuing. Some of the Quinns are State witnesses in the criminal proceedings.
The first of the two central cases – known as the “conspiracy case” – is the action initiated by IBRC in 2011 against some members of the family, a number of companies and others alleging a conspiracy to place assets in the Quinn international property group (with an estimated value of €460 million) beyond the bank’s reach.
The second case, known as the “main case”, is by Patricia Quinn and her five children against IBRC. Also brought in 2011, it involves claims they are not liable for €2.34 billion in loans advanced by Anglo to Quinn companies in 2007 and 2008 on the grounds that those loans were made for the unlawful purpose of propping up the bank’s plummeting share price.
Within the next few weeks, the Quinns are also expected to formally lodge proceedings alleging that the Central Bank and the Department of Finance were aware of and facilitated the allegedly illegal actions of Anglo.
IBRC previously indicated it could not object to “similar fact” issues raised in the claims against it and the regulators being heard together.
A key pre-trial application in the main case is fixed for hearing on October 16th, when the Quinns will seek orders to “ring-fence” all the assets in the Quinn group until their action against IBRC is decided.
The Quinns say the ring-fencing move, strongly opposed by Mr Wallace, was prompted by the announcement by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan that the disposal/transfer of IBRC assets is to be completed by the end of this year.
The Quinns claim assets of which they are the true owners are included in the IBRC assets. The Quinn assets were valued by the former Anglo Irish Bank at about €5 billion in 2007 and IBRC has no legitimate claim to them, the family allege.