Seán Quinn defends bid to put assets out of reach

Mon, Jul 30, 2012, 01:00

BANKRUPT BUSINESS man Seán Quinn has defended his family’s “very conscious decision” to put assets beyond the reach of the former Anglo Irish Bank over recent months.

While he said the Quinn Group had borrowed money to invest in the bank, he said it was wrong for the financial institution to go after the assets of family members.

“At the time in the receivership, we did everything in our power to take as many assets as we could from under their nose . . . We thought it was an absolute disgrace, and we still feel it’s an absolute disgrace. It was daylight robbery. So, we had no apologies. We went straight in front of the court, and told it exactly as it was,” Mr Quinn said, in a radio interview broadcast yesterday.

He was convinced that neither he or family members breached any injunction by trying to put assets out of reach of the bank.

Mr Quinn also said he had always maintained he would pay back whatever money was legitimately owed to the bank. But this had been made impossible given that he longer owned the Quinn Group or associated companies.

“We always said we would pay every penny back. The problem is, they wouldn’t let us pay it back. It’s the Quinn Group that owes this money, not the Quinn family. They never borrowed any money,” Mr Quinn told RTÉ’s This Week programme.

“So, the Quinn family owes them nothing. They [the bank] have taken over the group and made a dog’s dinner of it. Now they’re saying, ‘Seán, not only did we take your company, but you owe us €2.8 billion as well’. That’s the most nonsensical argument that’s come up in this whole process.”

He said paying back money would not have been a problem in the past given that the Quinn Group was valued at more than €4 billion and was making up to €600 million per year.

“This was one of the best companies in the country. We’d love to have it back. We’re absolutely devastated we don’t have it. Paying the money back was absolutely no problem for us. We always paid our debts. There was no problem paying that money back.”

Mr Quinn said he did not think there was anything further he could do to purge his contempt.

He said he had written to the bank’s solicitors last week to say he was available to travel anywhere or to sign any documents.

Miss Justice Elizabeth Dunne ruled earlier this month there had been an “outrageous” contempt of court by the Quinns and she was not happy with Mr Quinn’s co-operation to reverse asset-stripping measures from the Quinns’ international property group.

In the radio interview, Mr Quinn admitted that as chairman of the Quinn Group and Quinn Direct Insurance, he should not have borrowed money from both companies to buy shares in the former Anglo Irish Bank.

He also accepted that the decision of the Financial Regulator to effectively sack him as Quinn Direct chairman was correct.

Mr Quinn said people were mistaken if they thought he or his family had “money under the bed”. He said any profits made from Quinn firms in the past had been reinvested in the business.

He said assets or companies in the names of his children were legitimately theirs and Anglo never owned or invested in them.