Quinn 'not entitled to defend action'

Wed, Jul 4, 2012, 01:00

A High Court judge has ruled bankrupt businessman Seán Quinn is not entitled to defend a legal action that could ultimately result in judgment for more than €2.3 billion being entered against him in favour of the former Anglo Irish Bank.

Just after Mr Justice Peter Kelly made that ruling today, the bank, now Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), sought leave to apply for orders appointing receivers over the worldwide assets of the Quinn children and two of their husbands - Stephen Kelly and Niall McPartland - on grounds including they cannot be trusted arising from events including publication last Sunday of a video recording of a meeting in a restaurant in Kiev, Ukraine, in January 2012.

The bank said the meeting was between Peter Darragh Quinn, a nephew of Seán Quinn; Seán Quinn jnr and others, including Ms Larisa Puga. Ms Puga is the alleged recipient of a disputed $500,000 (€397,800) payment allegedly sanctioned by members of the Quinn family from Quinn Properties Ukraine last August just before IBRC took over that company.

That recording, the bank said, appeared to refer to attempts being made by members of the Quinn family in January 2012, "and which continue to be made", to strip assets from a company holding a valuable asset, a shopping centre in Kiev, Ukraine.

The video, the contents of which were published in the Irish Mail on Sunday, showed an exchange regarding large sums of money and also showed Peter Darragh Quinn, a nephew of Mr Quinn, was prepared to lie to the High Court in affidavits, Richard Woodhouse of IBRC said in an affidavit.

He said the video showed Peter Quinn stating he was in breach of a court injunction and, when asked would he lie in his testimony, laughing and responding: "I'd have to lie . . . that wouldn't overly worry me."

The footage also showed a discussion regarding Peter Quinn and Seán Quinn jnr's desire to find a way to move $100,000 in cash from Kiev to an account in a safe place and there was a discussion about the logistics of transporting that sum, in a way that is not detected, Mr Woodhouse said.

There were also references to "six million" and "five million" and a detailed discussion about the need for Peter Quinn to lie about signing contracts or he will go to jail, Mr Woodhouse added.

Brian Murray SC, for the bank, said it wanted to have this material before the court when it is deciding later this month whether to continue assets freezing orders against various Quinn family defendants and for the application to appoint receivers over the assets of the Quinn defendants.

The judge said the bank could apply for the orders appointing the receivers on July 24th, when he is due to deal with an application to continue orders against members of the Quinn family and a number of international companies freezing their worldwide accounts below €50 million each except for living and legal expenses. He would also allow time for the defendants to respond, he added.

The freezing orders were granted in the bank's action aimed at preventing dissipation of up to €500 million in assets in the Quinn family's international property group (IPG).

The orders apply to assets owned or controlled worldwide by the five Quinn children - Aoife, Ciara, Colette, Brenda and Seán jnr; Peter Darragh Quinn, Stephen Kelly and Niall McPartland; and several companies based in Belize, Panama, Russia and United Arab Emirates alleged to have cooperated with the Quinns in stripping assets.

Earlier today, Mr Justice Kelly delivered his judgment refusing an application by Seán Quinn snr to be permitted defend any claims form an indemnity made by Anglo against him in proceedings where Mr Quinn's wife and children argue they have no liability for some €2.3 billion loans made by Anglo on grounds they were allegedly made for the unlawful purpose of propping up the bank's share price.

Anglo denies the claims but has joined Mr Quinn and two former Quinn Group senior executives- Liam McCaffrey, former Quinn Group finance director, and Dara O'Reilly, chief executive of Quinn Group (NI) Ltd - as third parties to the case.

The bank contends, if the family wins, it is entitled to be indemnified by the three for the loans on grounds they were allegedly central to the management of the Quinn group and an alleged strategy to make investments to fund CfD positions in Anglo before the end of 2007. All three have denied the claims.

After the official assignee told Mr Justice Kelly in February he was not participating in the case, Anglo applied for judgment in default of defence against Mr Quinn, effectively seeking to have him bound by any judgment made at the end of the case.

Mr Quinn then applied to be permitted personally defend the claims against him.

Mr Justice Kelly ruled today Mr Quinn, in circumstances where he is a bankrupt and the official assignee in bankruptcy has decided not to defend the proceedings, cannot personally defend them. He also granted the bank liberty to bring a motion for judgment in default of defence against Mr Quinn at the trial of the family's case.