Forgeries allegedly used to thwart seizure of former Quinn property

High Court ‘almost certain’ businessman’s family behind extraction of €10m from building in India

Former billionaire Seán Quinn arriving at the Four Courts on Thursday for the High Court action. Photograph: Collins

Former billionaire Seán Quinn arriving at the Four Courts on Thursday for the High Court action. Photograph: Collins

 

False documents appear to have been used to support criminal complaints in India made against Irish businessman Robert Dix, the High Court has said.

The complaints had the effect of stopping Mr Dix travelling to India as part of efforts by the State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), in liquidation, to seize a property worth up to €65 million formerly owned by the family of Seán Quinn.

The IBRC has been trying to assert its ownership of a building known as Q City, in Hyderabad.

The High Court has said it is “almost certain” that members of the Quinn family were behind a scheme that extracted $12.5 million (€10.15 million) during 2012 from the Indian company that rents out the building.

Mr Justice Robert Haughton has said the forgery allegation was based on documents that he decided, on a prima facie basis, were themselves “false, altered or forged”.

The finding was made in a judgment delivered in February as part of the ongoing conspiracy proceedings taken by the IBRC in 2011 against the Quinn family.

The apparently forged documents were submitted in evidence to the court by a Dutch lawyer, Willem Smit, who is the principal of a Dubai-based firm, Senat Legal Consultancy, which provides services to the Quinn family.

Debt instruments

The allegation of forgery was in relation to multimillion-euro debt instruments held by an Irish company called Quinn Finance in relation to a property company in India (Mack Soft) that in turn owns the building in Hyderabad.

Mr Dix is a well-known Irish businessman. A former partner with KPMG, he was appointed to the boards of companies within the international property group set up by Mr Quinn as part of the IBRC’s effort to assert control over it.

Robert Dix: criminal complaints made against him in India were based on false documents, said the High Court. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Robert Dix: criminal complaints made against him in India were based on false documents, said the High Court. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The debentures featured in proceedings taken in India in 2016 by Quinn Finance, of which Mr Dix is a director. In those proceedings, he told the Irish High Court in February “forged versions” of the debentures had been produced by Mack Soft.

The Indian company had then sought to allege, based on the forged documents, that the true version of the debentures produced by Quinn Finance were forgeries.

The company has since then “orchestrated criminal proceedings against me personally in respect of that alleged forgery, which I strenuously deny”, Mr Dix said.

Similar allegations were also made against others, who were also thereby deterred from travelling to India to try to secure control of the €65 million building.

Copies of debentures

Mr Justice Houghton examined copies of the debentures that came from the computer server of Quinn Finance, and copies that came from a Senat colleague of Mr Smit’s, Michael Waechter. These copies differed from the ones produced by Mr Smit and which accompanied his affidavit to the Irish court.

Mr Justice Haughton reviewed the documents in a part of his judgment headed “false debentures put in evidence”, and concluded: “So Mr Smit relies on what appears to be a false document.”

After problems with Mr Smit’s affidavit evidence were raised on day one of the proceedings, the judge said instructions had been sought from Dubai overnight “but were not forthcoming” and this in turn had led to Mr Smit’s solicitors saying they would like to come off-record.

Referring to the debentures exhibited by Mr Smit, the judge said that “prima facie these are false, altered or forged documents or copies”.

Mr Dix said there had been“a deliberate attempt to deter me from continuing to perform my duties as director of Quinn Logistics India,” one of the companies within the structure set up by Mr Quinn to hold the property portfolio for his five children.