Quinn jailed for 'outrageous and serious contempt'
It was not disputed that significant assets had been put beyond the reach of IBRC and the position of the Quinn defendants appeared to be that they were so successful in that regard, they themselves could not retrieve the assets, the judge said.
She did not have to decide that issue now as the sole issue before her was whether to impose a punitive sanction. She was dealing with punitive issues arising from past non-compliance with court orders.
It was important to ensure court orders were complied with and the integrity of the court system was not set at naught by “an egregious breach of court orders”.
The judge referred to her previous findings of contempt against Mr Quinn and her rejection of his evidence in the contempt hearing as not credible, evasive and unco-operative. She had also found he had given his imprimatur to the asset-stripping scheme.
She had found that Mr Quinn was in contempt via involvement in the assignment of multimillion loans and the backdating of documents with a view to showing the assignments occurred before the court orders.
She also found contempt via his involvement in a €500,000 payment to Larissa Puga, general director of Quinn Properties Ukraine, on the eve of the bank’s takeover of that company.
Mr Quinn had denied involvement in any of those matters and is appealing her findings in that regard. This week he also said he had co-operated fully with the bank in its efforts to recover assets but the bank disputed those claims.
The judge referred to the “impassioned plea” by Mr Grant not to jail Mr Quinn.
He had said Mr Quinn had several health issues and had fallen from being Ireland’s richest man employing up to 8,000 people to a position where he was “broken”, “bereft” and “bankrupt”.
The bank had argued that Mr Quinn had failed to purge his contempt and that it believed various Quinn family members were continuing to direct steps to prevent it from recovering assets for the Irish taxpayer. Those claims were denied.
The judge delivered her ruling in a courtroom packed with lawyers, journalists and supporters of Mr Quinn. Mr Quinn’s son Seán and sons-in-law Niall McPartland and Stephen Kelly were also in court. IBRC was represented by its chief executive Mike Aynsley and senior executive Richard Woodhouse.
THE JUDGE SEÁN QUINN
Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne
on Mr Quinn’s contempt:
“Nothing short of outrageous”
“Mr Quinn spoke of the way in which these proceedings ‘negatively consumed’ his life and that of his wife’s family. In my view, he has only himself to blame.”
“I cannot come to any other conclusion but that the contempt of court of which Mr Quinn was found guilty falls into the category of cases involving serious misconduct.”
Seán Quinn snr
“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.”