Quinns were ‘doing what they were told’ with Anglo holding, court hears
Shares held in Cyprus to maximise tax efficiency, former Quinn financial director says
Dara O’Reilly told the trial he believed businessman Seán Quinn was not happy about the unwinding of his holding in ANglo Irish Bank. Photograph: Collins Courts
Dara O’Reilly told the trial of three former directors of the bank yesterday he believed businessman Seán Quinn was not happy about the unwinding. His view was that the value of Anglo Irish Bank shares would recover.
He told the court he was involved in the execution of the deal to unwind the Quinn contracts for difference (CFDs) – investment products based on share price – in July 2008.
The Quinn children bought 15 per cent of the shares in the bank and the Maple 10 businessmen bought 1 per cent each. The purchases were funded with loans from the bank, the court had heard.
Mr O’Reilly said he liaised with Morgan Stanley, the investment bank handling the unwind, in relation to documentation, and he also liaised with Anglo in relation to the facility letters for the loans to buy the shares.
Paul Anthony McDermott, for the prosecution, asked who was giving the direction in terms of the deal.
“Quinn was doing what they were told to do,” Mr O’Reilly said.
Mr McDermott asked who decided the deal should take place over that weekend of July 12th.
“That would have been Anglo,” Mr O’Reilly said.
Seán FitzPatrick (65) of Greystones, Co Wicklow; William McAteer (63) of Rathgar, Dublin; and Pat Whelan (51) of Malahide, Dublin, have been charged with 16 counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to 16 individuals in July 2008 to buy shares in the bank, contrary to section 60 of the Companies Act. Mr Whelan has also been charged with being privy to the fraudulent alteration of loan facility letters to seven individuals.
All three men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Mr O’Reilly said the shares bought by the Quinn children went to a trust account, and after a few months a new corporate structure using Cypriot companies was developed for the shares. This was for tax efficiency reasons.
He also agreed that the company that held the Anglo CFDs, Bazelly Ltd, was incorporated in Madeira to ensure tax efficiency.
He said Bazelly was set up in 2005, and its purpose was to trade in CFDs and create a source of independent wealth for the Quinn children. He was a director of the company.
He said Mr Quinn snr provided the direction for the investment strategy. The initial investments were in a range of companies including financial and mining stocks, as well as Anglo. But as time passed the Anglo holding increased and the others reduced.
Before it was unwound in July 2008, the CFD holding was underpinned with more than 28 per cent of the shares of the company.
Patrick Gageby SC, for Mr McAteer, suggested the Anglo shares were moved to Cyprus to maximise the “non-taxable returns” for the Quinn children, if possible.
Mr O’Reilly said it was to maximise returns for further investment.
“That was always the strategy,” he said.
Mr O’Reilly confirmed he provided the Quinn children with the documentation to sign for the loans from Anglo to buy the shares.
He agreed that accounts would have been opened for them and passports and mandates would have been required.
Under cross-examination from Lorcan Staines, for Mr Whelan, Mr Staines said it puzzled him that some members of the Quinn family had taken the stand and said they were not aware of the loans until 2010.
“I would have taken my direction either directly or indirectly from Seán Quinn senior,” Mr O’Reilly responded.
He agreed he did provide the Quinn children with the documentation for signing.
Also yesterday, Colin Morgan, chief executive of Quinn Insurance until 2010, gave evidence of his role in the preparation of a press release that would announce the Quinn family’s purchase of Anglo shares and the unwinding of their CFDs.
He said he did not know whose idea it was to issue the release or who drafted the original version, but he was asked to circulate it to Morgan Stanley.
He agreed to some changes of the first draft, and he would have gotten approval for this from either Mr Quinn or Liam McCaffrey, former Quinn Group chief executive.
The case was adjourned to Monday.