Seán Quinn feels ‘stupid’ for getting too involved in Anglo
Former richest man in Ireland says he will eventually be vindicated in the courts
Businessman Seán Quinn has said that he and his family have been “badly wronged” by the manner in which their businesses have been taken away. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.
Businessman Seán Quinn has said that he and his family have been “badly wronged” by the manner in which their businesses have been taken away.
Mr Quinn, who was once Ireland’s richest man and is now bankrupt, acknowledged that he had been “stupid” to have bought shares in Anglo Irish Bank, a move which ultimately destroyed his business.
“I made all this money. I threw away all this money. At the end of the day there is an obligation on me, and if there is a conspiracy against us, to bring that to light,” he said.
He denied being responsible for leaking the Anglo tapes to the Independent newspapers. “I never saw the tapes,” he said, “I think the family would have received only 5 per cent of the tapes.”
The Quinn family are taking the former Anglo Irish Bank (now Irish Bank Resolution Corporation) to court alleging that €2.34 billion lent to them was illegally provided to prop up the bank’s share price.
The family are also defending an action taken by IBRC which is alleging that they put assets beyond the reach of them and by extension the Irish taxpayer.
In an interview with Pat Kenny on Newstalk radio this morning, Mr Quinn denied being a gambler saying that he built a quarry business from scratch and his businesses expanded bit by bit over the years.
He said that he continued to pile into Anglo Irish Bank shares in 2007 because most of the brokers were saying it was a sound business that was continuing to grow.
“I stupidly believed that. We thought there were opportunities there. Of course we were wrong,” he said. “We didn’t see the country going bankrupt. What happened in Ireland was unprecedented. I regret that and I feel stupid that I got too involved with Anglo Irish Bank.”
Mr Quinn said he had “very little” to do with either court cases which are being taken against his family and supporters were helping to fund his legal challenges.
He described the decision to make him bankrupt in the courts in Dublin as the “lowest of the low” as he had conducted his whole business since the beginning from Derrylin, Co Fermanagh.
Had he been able to take a case for bankruptcy in the North, he would now be free to start up other businesses, he maintained. “It was always my intention to start something again,” he said.
He predicted that the Quinn Group will be vindicated in the coming years in their opposition to the decision by the then financial regulator Matthew Elderfield to send in administrators. Mr Elderfield believed the group did not have enough cash reserves for their insurance business.
Mr Quinn said he had recently circulated an analysis of Quinn Direct’s position leading up to administration which showed it was in a healthy position.
“Quinn Direct was the best financed company in the insurance industry,” he said. “Quinn Direct was hugely profitable.”
He said the Quinn Group had a turnover of €2.3 billion in 2006 and profits of €450 million before they got involved with Anglo Irish Bank. They had €1.1 billion and €500 million of assets.
He admitted to feeling “terrible” that his family’s fortune had been destroyed. When asked if he felt any shame for having served time in jail, he responded: “I think I made mistakes, but I think the people who done what they have done to me should be ashamed.”
He said his family was always in the business of doing everything “100 per cent honest”.
“What keeps us going is that we know we have been wronged. I believe that Seán Quinn wouldn’t be a man at all if he allowed people to steal his family’s belongings. I never stole a penny that did not belong to me in my life.”
When asked if he got too greedy, he responded: “Possibly, but if you build a new cement factory or a hotel, if you do anything, you can say ‘you don’t need that Seán’.
“God gave everybody a gift in life. I’m not very well educated and there are a lot of things I can’t do, but he gave me a gift in being able to make money and create employment in one of the poorest areas of Europe.
“That was a great gift to have and I expanded it sometimes stupidly. Money was never a God for me, success was and achieving things and creating something for the area was always my ambition.”