Quinn tells court he asked oil firm to provide security

Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 01:00

A FEAR of becoming a victim of a “tiger” kidnapping prompted businessman Tony Quinn to ask the oil company of which he was a director to provide security protection, he told a court here yesterday.

The company, International Natural Energy (INE), spent almost $1.3 million (€1 million) on security services in a five-month period from September 2008 to February 2009, the court heard.

Mr Quinn, who was being cross-examined by Frank Walwyn, lawyer for a former director Sheila McCaffrey, said he was sure he wasn’t the only director for whom security had been provided.

Ms McCaffrey claims the company, which controls extensive oil reserves in Belize, has been mismanaged since she was ousted as a director in 2007 and claims Mr Quinn and another director, Susan Morrice, have diverted revenues for their own benefit.

Both Mr Quinn and Ms Morrice, who has yet to give evidence, deny the allegations.

The case, which is being heard in the commercial division of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, is being followed closely by many of the original investors from Ireland, who may take a derivative action.

Mr Quinn said he asked the company for security after articles began appearing about him in the newspapers. This had never happened to him before, but the articles claimed he was worth up to €1 billion and there were a lot of so-called tiger kidnappings at the time. One of the people who attended his seminars had been subjected to such a kidnapping.

He said he began to be subjected to surveillance and “pretty invasive stuff”. Once, while shopping in Dublin with his partner, three large men who looked like former soldiers followed them into a shop and pushed them.

He said he was followed constantly and cameras were stuck up over his wall at home in Malahide. Groups gathered outside the house and he had to call the police. He had security cameras installed.

A website, Dialogue Ireland, carried information about all his movements, so INE gave him protection. He agreed with counsel that he had been “involved” with Dialogue Ireland since before he was a director. He had issues with the group since the 1970s but up to then these had been very mild.

Asked about spending by INE on “IT penetration testing”, Mr Quinn said the venues for board meetings were swept for bugs beforehand. Some of the computers were hacked into and there was “a lot of hacking into various things”. People were trying to listen into board meetings at his house in Malahide. If board members came out to the garden on a fine day things were pushed up over the wall and “obviously they would pick up what was said”.

Mr Walwyn said Mr Quinn was being accused of being a cult leader and a mindbender for a long time but it was only when he got involved with INE that he started spending this money on security. Mr Quinn said that up to then he had considered Mike Garde of Dialogue Ireland as a crank and it never had any effect on what he was doing. Ms McCaffrey has already given evidence in the case, which is scheduled to last two weeks.