Quinn children settle €440m battle with IBRC
Judgment will be stayed if they comply with asset recovery conditions
Sean Quinn’s children (from left) Sean Jnr, Aoife and Brenda at the Four Courts for the hearing of their long-running High Court action. File photograph: Collins Courts
A conditional judgment for €440 million is part of the settlement of the long and bitter litigation between the Quinn family and State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).
Under the settlement, the five adult Quinn children have consented to judgment for €440 million, some €88 million each, but execution and registration of the judgment will be stayed on condition they take steps to help secure the return to IBRC of valuable assets in their international property group.
Both sides have also agreed to meet their own costs of the marathon litigation.
The overall costs, including of legal actions overseas aimed at reversing an asset stripping scheme, and other steps for asset recovery, are expected to runs to tens of millions.
The settlement was announced to Mr Justice Garrett Simons at the High Court today, on the 11th day of the family’s action, dating back to 2011.
The judge welcomed the settlement.
The settlement covers proceedings by the Quinns against IBRC and receivers over Anglo loans of €2.34 billion and by IBRC against the Quinns over a conspiracy to strip assets with an estimated worth of €455 million.
The settlement deal was brokered while the sides awaited a significant ruling from the judge over whether the Quinns could argue they were unduly influenced by their father to sign guarantees and securities related to hundreds of millions of loans made by Anglo Irish Bank to Quinn companies.
The judge’s refusal to allow the Quinns make that case, on grounds it was radically different from the claim they had pursued over eight years, was a major setback for them.
The talks continued and today Bernard Dunleavy SC, with Ciarán Lewis SC for the Quinns, said all the proceedings had been resolved. He said the Quinns were very grateful for that and to put the case behind them.
He said the Quinns’ claim could be struck out with no order for costs. He said there were orders on the bank’s counterclaim which Paul Gallagher SC for IBRC would outline.
Mr Gallagher said €88,157,399 could be entered against all five Quinns on consent with a stay on registration and execution on terms set out.
IBRC had also brought a third party claim against two former senior Quinn Group executives, Dara O’Reilly and Liam McCaffrey. They were joined to the case for the purpose of IBRC seeking an indemnity against them should the Quinns win their case. Both men denied they acted as agents of the Quinn children in relation to the disputed securities.
Because a dispute persists about who should pay the legal costs of the two third parties, orders concerning the third party claim will be made later.
IBRC special liquidator Kieran Wallace was in court today. None of the Quinn plaintiffs were in court. Among those in the packed courtroom was Michael Staines, who had been keeping a watching brief for jailed former Anglo chief executive David Drumm, whom the Quinns had sought to subpoena to give evidence.
The Quinns initiated their action eight years ago as Anglo Irish Bank, owed some €2.89 billion by the Quinn group, moved to take over the group’s companies.
IBRC, into which Anglo was nationalised following its collapse, brought a parallel action over a scheme to strip hundreds of millions worth of assets from the Quinns’ international property group.
The full hearing of both actions were delayed over years to allow for conclusion of criminal cases against various former Anglo executives and officials.
However, there were multiple pre-trial applications in both cases over the years, including to try and recover assets in countries including Russia, Ukraine and India.
Drumm’s jailing last year finally cleared the way for the family’s case to open on March 12th last.
In their case, which could have run for several months, the Quinns had disputed the validity of loans of some €2.34 billion made by Anglo to Quinn Group firms in 2007 to fund “contract for difference” (CFDs) positions built up by Seán Quinn snr in Anglo.
The CFDs involved an agreement to exchange the difference between the current and future price of shares in Anglo. When Anglo’s share price continued to drop in 2008, the bank demanded the Quinns reduce the CFD position and most of the CFDs were unwound into shares.
One portion of those was purchased by a group of investors known as the “Maple Ten” and the rest by the Quinn Group. The Quinn shares were transferred to six Quinn-owned Cypriot companies which ultimately received €498 million from Anglo.
When presenting the Quinns’ case, Mr Dunleavy said Seán Quinn snr had gambled with his children’s property and future when he spent hundreds of millions on Anglo shares and Anglo, the “worst bank”, was well aware he was doing so.
The five children got no independent legal advice when asked to sign personal guarantees and share pledges arising from the loans advanced by Anglo and have been left with the “disastrous” consequences of those, he said.
The Quinns disputed the bank’s counterclaim they are liable for some €410 million under personal guarantees.
In IBRC’s opening statement, senior counsel Mr Gallagher said the Quinn family had used the group as their “personal bank” and “raided” it for almost €2 billion to fund significant losses from investments related to Anglo shares, property acquisitions and lifestyle expenses.
The personal expenses included a €1 million bill for Ciara Quinn’s wedding in 2007 paid by the Slieve Russell Hotel Ltd company and never repaid, he said.
The Quinns’ actions jeopardised the financial stability of a group projected in 2010 as worth €3 billion when it was in fact insolvent, he said. They used whatever cash they could to fund “enormous losses”, including funds taken out of Quinn Insurance Ltd which now has a shortfall of more than €1 billion, he added.
Some €511 million was also raised in late 2007 to loan monies to the Quinn group to “repair holes” in its finances and meet requirements of banks and bondholders.
After the opening statements, Brenda Quinn, the youngest of the Quinns, was to begin her evidence but that was delayed while the Quinns’ lawyers applied to be permitted pursue claims of undue influence against Seán Quinn snr. Talks began pending the judge’s ruling on that application and intensified after he refused it.
In a statement, IBRC said it considered the settlement of the litigation to be in the best interests of creditors in circumstances where it has received “full disclosure” from the Quinn family and where the very lengthy litigation in being since 2011 will be concluded.
It said the parties have agreed to terms that include the Quinn family dismissing the proceedings initiated by them against IBRC and the share receiver appointed over Quinn companies in 2011, and dismissing the separate proceedings issued by them against the Central Bank of Ireland and other parties.
It said, under the agreement reached in the last few days, the Quinn family has agreed to a dismissal of all their claims against IBRC, as well as their separate claim against the Central Bank and other parties,
The family have provided IBRC with “full disclosure” and will likewise relinquish any entitlement to any of the assets that are subject of IBRC’s security, “which they acknowledge to be valid and enforceable”, IBRC said.
The statement also said that final orders, including orders for judgment, will be obtained the proceedings by IBRC against the Quinn family.
IBRC will retain an ability to enforce agreed judgments against the family, it said.