IBRC will pay €155m to Russian firm to help secure Quinn assets
THE STATE-OWNED Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) is to get the help of one of Russia’s largest business groups to try and recover Quinn property put beyond its reach.
Under the deal, the investment arm of the Alfa Group, A1, will keep up to $200 million (€155 million) of property formerly owned by the family of Seán Quinn and now held by other Russian interests and offshore firms, in return for helping to recover property.
The move by the IBRC comes as the former billionaire, Seán Quinn (66), is starting a nine-week sentence in Mountjoy Jail for contempt of court. It was approved by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and is linked to the bank’s view that such a deal is the only option left open to it given the stance being adopted by the Quinn family.
IBRC has been trying for more than a year to seize an international property group worth up to $500 million and over which it says it has legal security linked to loans to the Quinns. The family has told the High Court that it set in train a scheme to put the assets beyond the bank’s reach but that it is now no longer in control of the asset-stripping scheme and cannot retrieve the assets. The bank says it does not believe the family.
Mr Quinn was jailed yesterday for nine weeks by Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne as punishment for an “outrageous” contempt of court in relation to persisting with the asset-stripping after being ordered last year to desist. She referred to Mr Quinn’s statement in an affidavit that his dispute with IBRC had “negatively consumed” his life and that of his family. “In my view, he has only himself to blame.”
She said Mr Quinn’s contempt was a serious one and that it was important that court orders were complied with and the integrity of the court system was “not set at naught”.
The family is disputing the legality of the security, which, it claims, is linked to loans issued by Anglo as part of an effort to shore up its share price. Its claim has not yet been heard by the courts.
However, members of the family have admitted they initiated a scheme to put the secured assets beyond the reach of the bank.
Mr Quinn will be moved today to the semi-open training unit in Mountjoy, having spent last night in the committal unit. His son, Seán jnr, has already served a three-month sentence for contempt in Mountjoy.
In an extraordinary day in the High Court Mr Quinn was sentenced, but offered the opportunity to have the sentence stayed pending an appeal. The court rose to allow him consult with his legal team, which he did before going to the bar in the Four Courts to drink a pint in the company of supporters.
When he returned to court it was announced that he wanted to start his sentence forthwith. When he knew a decision had been made, he liked to get on with it, he told reporters, before being led away by a uniformed garda.
The former billionaire, who is now a bankrupt, looked tearful after a female supporter gave him a hug as he was exiting the courtroom.
In July IBRC succeeded in having an administrator appointed to a valuable property in Moscow, but last month that gain was reversed by the Russian courts.
The bank has now decided to do a deal with one of the largest privately owned conglomerates in Russia, the Alfa Group, as it believes its chances of recovering valuable property in Russia and the Ukraine are poor without the involvement of an experienced local partner.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny would not comment directly on the sentencing of Mr Quinn, though he said it behoved every citizen to co-operate with bank inquiries. The North’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he couldn’t comment on a court the case “other than to say that I think that the banks have an awful lot to answer for”.