Quinn 'shocked' at liability estimate

Wed, Aug 8, 2012, 01:00

Seán Quinn has described the latest estimates for the administration of Quinn Insurance as “truly shocking”.

This comes in the wake of suggestions by the Central Bank that the claim on the State’s Insurance Compensation Fund to cover losses at the insurer may rise above the previously estimated worst-case scenario of €1.65 billion.

Yesterday, Domhnall Cullinan, head of general insurance supervision at the Central Bank, told the High Court, the bank hoped the €1.65 billion figure was "as bad as it gets" but added, "further peels of the onion", through additional reviews of the business, means the call on the fund "could get worse".

Mr Cullinan said he was satisfied the joint administrators appointed to the insurer in March 2010 had "gone through a very robust process" to determine the potential call on the fund, he told the court.

However, in a statement today, Mr Quinn said the court and Department of Finance should seek further information about how the administrators arrived at what he described as an “astronomical figure”.

He repeated his assertion that the insurance business was placed into administration unnecessarily and “on the basis of incorrect assumptions relied on by the financial regulator”.

He also dismissed suggestions the insurer was not profitable, claiming the company was outperforming all its competitors prior to being placed into administration.

“My biggest regret in all of this is not challenging the provisional appointment of the administrators, however from the outset they actively discouraged us to do so under the guise that our best prospects of regaining control of the company was by working through the issues with them.”

The businessman claimed he and his family were “completely sidelined” by the administrators who he claimed had “set about destroying one of the most profitable companies in Irish corporate history”.

At yesterday’s court proceedings, the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns referred to a letter sent by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to the joint administrators in June complaining about the spiralling cost of the insurer to the compensation fund particularly when considering the context of “the very difficult financial environment the country is currently grappling with”.

“What is remarkable is that this figure continues to climb by substantial amounts in what are relatively short periods of time and following examination by teams of actuaries and accountants and your own oversight of the process,” the Minister wrote.

In his statement today, Mr Quinn welcomed Mr Noonan’s remarks, saying it was clear from the Minister’s statement that "we were not the only ones misled".

"I believe that history will ultimately demonstrate that the deal between Anglo Irish Bank [now IBRC] and Liberty Mutual will be recognised as the worst possible outcome for the State," he added.

All of Quinn Insurance businesses in the Republic, except healthcare, have been transferred to Liberty Mutual.

The US insurer is now wholly responsible for the business while IBRC is acting in a loan recovery capacity.