Apology for role in stripping assets
REACTION:BUSINESSMAN SEÁN Quinn has apologised to the Irish public for his part in seeking to put assets beyond the reach of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, but said the issue was “small fry” compared to what had happened to his family.
In the immediate aftermath of his being sentenced to nine weeks in jail for contempt, Mr Quinn spoke to reporters in courtroom number six in the Four Courts.
Asked if he should not have gone to the courts to dispute the bank’s claim on the assets – which have a value of up to $500 million, (€390 million) – rather than seek to put them beyond the bank’s reach, Mr Quinn said the family had made lots of mistakes.
“We didn’t do it well,” he said. “If you are saying to me, ‘are we white, or am I white’, then absolutely no way.”
He said that for 64 of his 66 years he had run his business very, very well and made very few mistakes. However, in the past two years he and his family had made mistakes.
“Do I apologise to the Irish public? Yes I do,” he said.
Mr Quinn said the asset-stripping issue was “small fry” compared with the “overall assault” by the bank on his family which involved the taking of his companies and their destruction.
He said he had chosen to go straight to jail rather than await a Supreme Court appeal as he had been a proactive person all his life. When he knew a decision had been made, he liked to get on with it. “I’m a very positive person.”
Referring to a pending case where his family is disputing debts of €2.4 billion and the bank’s security over the property at the heart of the asset-stripping scheme, he said if his children won their case, then the whole contempt issue would be shown to be a “charade”.
He said he believed Anglo Irish Bank, which is now part of IBRC, did not have a legal right to have taken over the Quinn Group and urged the media to ask the question of who had prompted and encouraged Anglo to take over the Quinn Group.
“They put me in jail, my son in jail, for the dissipating of assets of companies the family owned and that the bank had never loaned a penny to,” other than money loaned illegally and associated with the bank’s effort to prop up its own share price.
He said the bank had not acted honourably but had gone “behind backs and have tried to drag us through the mud. They took all my money, they took my companies, they took my reputation and they put me in jail.”
Yet they had not proven in court that the family owed the money the bank claimed it did.
“Unfortunately, and I don’t want to be negative on my way into prison, you people the [media] haven’t investigated that. You people have been led by the nose.”
Mr Quinn’s comments were interrupted when a garda walked over, touched him on the arm and indicated he had to go.
Later the Courts Service issued a statement saying it was a long-standing convention that interviews were not conducted in the confines of courthouses.
“It is also a breach of court practice to record in courtrooms.”