Seán Quinn jnr begins prison term for court contempt
THE SON of bankrupt businessman Seán Quinn has spent his first night behind bars after he was jailed by the High Court for failing to comply with orders aimed at returning multimillions of euros worth of assets to the control of the former Anglo Irish Bank.
Seán Quinn jnr (33) was jailed for three months, while Seán Quinn snr escaped prison for what Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne described as “outrageous” contempt of court orders, stripping assets from their €500 million international property group.
The only son of the former billionaire businessman is the sole person to be jailed in the aftermath of the collapse of Anglo Irish Bank.
The Quinns owe the bank €2.8 billion, mostly arising from loans in 2008 to cover losses on Mr Quinn’s investment in the bank.
Peter Darragh Quinn, the nephew of Seán Quinn snr, was also sentenced to three months, but his whereabouts were not known last night after he failed to appear in court yesterday.
The court was told that his solicitor received a message at 10.15am – 15 minutes before the court hearing started – to say he was sick and unable to attend the court.
A warrant was issued for his arrest after repeated attempts by his legal team to contact him via phone, text and email, and by calls to his father, brother and sister.
The judge sentenced the two men to jail at 3pm after giving the Quinns three weeks to comply with orders aimed at unravelling their conspiracy to put properties beyond the reach of the bank.
She found that the three men had failed to comply adequately with the court’s orders and said she was unhappy with their lack of co-operation in unravelling the conspiracy to put assets beyond the reach of the State-owned bank.
She granted the bank’s request to jail Seán Quinn jnr and Peter Quinn and left open the possibility of punitive action against Seán Quinn snr so he could take steps to comply with the court orders.
The bank wanted Seán Quinn snr to remain free to take action to unwind the asset-stripping measures, as he had admitted directing the conspiracy to keep properties out of the hands of the bank.
Seán Quinn jnr was driven away in a Garda van at 4.15pm, shortly after his former billionaire father, once Ireland’s richest man, left the Four Courts in Dublin in a taxi.
“Have a good weekend,” Mr Quinn replied to reporters when asked whether he was pleased to have avoided prison.
His son spent the first night at Mountjoy Prison last night, where he was processed as a new prisoner, before it is decided where he will see out his sentence.
The judge said the two imprisoned men could apply to be freed within the three-month period if they could show the court they had purged their contempt.
There is also the possibility that the sentences could be extended and that Seán Quinn snr could also be imprisoned if they fail to comply.
Ms Justice Dunne said she was surprised about a number of transactions that emerged, including payments of €2.8 million to eight members of the Quinn family since last year from a company that owned a Russian office block.
Lawyers for the bank argued that new disclosures by the Quinns contradicted evidence given by the three men in the contempt case, including that a $1 million payment to a Russian law firm that had acted for the Quinns.
A payment of €450,000 was made to Peter Quinn in 2011 while he was in charge of a Russian company, a part of the property group.
The bank described the transactions as “very disturbing” and said there had been a “very significant failure” by the three men to comply with the court orders.
The bank claimed they seemed to be willing to spend a short time in prison if they could hold on to assets worth €500 million.