Quinns seek to ease ‘hugely oppressive’ asset-freezing orders

IBRC opposes application, alleging failure to co-operate with receivers

Members of businessman Seán Quinn’s family want the High Court to vary “hugely oppressive” orders freezing their accounts and assets below €50 million. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Members of businessman Seán Quinn’s family want the High Court to vary “hugely oppressive” orders freezing their accounts and assets below €50 million. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Members of businessman Seán Quinn’s family want the High Court to vary “hugely oppressive” four-year-old orders freezing their accounts and assets below €50 million.

The businessman’s five adult children and three of their spouses, Stephen Kelly, Niall McPartland and Karen Woods, claim the value of their assets is not, and was never, “remotely close” to €50 million and the orders are affecting their normal lives, including efforts to get employment, be paid salaries, get a mortgage or remortgage property.

The extent and duration of the orders in their cases are punitive, they claim. The orders were granted by the High Court in July 2012 to State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) following its takeover of loans advanced to Quinn companies by Anglo Irish Bank.

The role of joint receivers Declan Taite and Sharon Barrett, also appointed in 2012 over assets and accounts of the Quinns, was described as effectively policing compliance with the freezing orders.

Variation

In these circumstances, the court should vary the freezing orders, they claim. IBRC opposes the application on grounds including alleged failure by the Quinns to co-operate with the receivers.

When the variation application came before Mr Justice Robert Haughton yesterday, he heard preliminary objections by Ross Aylward, for the Quinns, to the court hearing evidence from the receivers.

Ruling

Michael Collins SC, for the receivers, said the case involved the “largest civil fraud” in Irish legal history and the claims of non-co-operation were very relevant. Brian Murray SC, for IBRC, said it was entitled to rely on evidence from Mr Taite concerning the alleged non-co-operation.

In his ruling, the judge said Mr Taite was one of two receivers appointed to ensure compliance with the freezing orders and the High Court had said it expected the receivers would get full co-operation.

In deciding whether to vary such orders, the issue of co-operation was relevant. The receivers were in a special position as officers appointed by the court and had been dealing directly with the Quinns over some four years, the judge said. the receivers should be represented and heard, he ruled. The hearing continues.