Seán Quinn involved in controlling trust money, court hears

Representatives say there is no evidence any Quinn money was paid into litigation fund

 Seán Quinn: Once Ireland’s richest man, he lost control of his business empire when it collapsed six years ago. File photograph: Alan Betson

Seán Quinn: Once Ireland’s richest man, he lost control of his business empire when it collapsed six years ago. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

Former billionaire Seán Quinn was allegedly involved in controlling money paid into a trust set up to pay his legal bills, the High Court in Belfast has heard.

A receiver attempting to locate any assets belonging to the Fermanagh-born businessman suspects that funds came from members of his family, it was confirmed to a judge.

However, counsel for representatives of the trust said there was no evidence of any Quinn money being paid in.

Once Ireland’s richest man, Mr Quinn lost control of his business empire when it collapsed six years ago.

Receiver Declan Taite was subsequently appointed by IBRC, formerly known as Anglo Irish Bank, to locate and collect any assets.

A list of 34 individuals and companies have been identified as having contributed funds to the Erne Group Trust.

The trust, set up in 2012, has reportedly paid nearly €1.7 million towards the cost of the Quinn family’s litigation and associated fees in the Republic of Ireland.

‘Clear connections’

Although the donors remain publicly confidential, an order was previously made for their names and the sums contributed to be disclosed to the receiver. He has issued proceedings in Belfast in an attempt to clarify the situation surrounding the trust. It was previously alleged that some donors had clear connections to the Quinn family.

However, in court on Monday, Lord Justice Girvan heard conflicting claims about any suspected links.

Mark Orr, representing trustees in the case, argued that no “nexus” had been established between any of the 34 donors and the Quinns named in the receiver’s case.

‘Huge’ amounts

However, Stephen Shaw, for the receiver, insisted there was evidence to the contrary.

During exchanges the judge put it to him: “You are seeking relief in relation to the proposition that some of the money was actually money coming from the named Quinns in the receiver’s order.

“Money that went through the trust was effectively money controlled by the named Quinns . . . therefore the money represents assets covered by the orders made in Dublin.”

Mr Shaw confirmed that was the case being made.

The court also heard that “huge” amounts of money had already gone towards fees for lawyers in the Dublin litigation. Less than 1 per cent of total funds in the trust went to two charities in Northern Ireland.

Giving evidence, a solicitor acting for the trustees insisted he never took instructions from the Quinns.

Under cross-examination, he told Mr Shaw that his concern was always to “follow the correct chain of command” and ensure dealings were with representatives of the trust.

The case continues.