Judgment reserved in Quinn case


State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (formerly Anglo Irish Bank) will immediately seek to have Sean Quinn declared a bankrupt in the Republic if the Belfast court annuls his Northern Ireland bankruptcy, the High Court in Belfast heard today. 

Gabriel Moss SC, for the bank, was addressing Mr Justice Donal Deeny, who reserved his judgment at the end of today’s hearing. Judgment is likely in the new year.

Bankrupt billionaire Sean by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (formerly Anglo Irish Bank), 

Earlier, the court was told Mr Quinn was not placed under surveillance by the State-owned bank. However, IBRC senior executive Richard Woodhouse agreed that the bank had asked a company called RMI, which it used to serve papers on Mr Quinn, to “observe” a former tyre factory in Belturbet, Co Cavan, from which it had been told Mr Quinn was operating.

“We did not enter the premises or follow anyone,” Mr Woodhouse told the High Court hearing. There was “no tailing” of Mr Quinn or any member of his family, he said.

At the time, Mr Woodhouse had received from the media and noted from a blog on a GAA website, reports that Mr Quinn was setting up a new business from the building.

He believed Mr Quinn might be working on creating a new insurance business to be called Q2. Mr Woodhouse received reports that Mr Quinn and lieutenants of his were seen at the building and that it was being kitted out as offices. However, Mr Quinn has told the hearing in an affidavit that he held social meetings at the building.

Mr Woodhouse contested the suggestion from Mark Orr QC, for Mr Quinn, that IBRC had set up a meeting with Mr Quinn in Dublin in April 2011 so that he would not be in the Quinn Group headquarters in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, on the day the group was seized by a share receiver acting for the bank.

The court heard that IBRC chairman Alan Dukes contacted Mr Quinn’s Co Fermanagh offices on the day before the seizure and invited him to an important meeting in the IBRC offices in Dublin the following day.

Mr Woodhouse said that Mr Quinn was due to be in Dublin that day anyway - as were a number of Quinn Group staff - for the submission of a petition concerning the treatment of the group by the State and the holding of a number of protests.

Buses containing Quinn Group staff were going to Dublin while buses containing people involved in seizing the Quinn Group were heading from Dublin, the court was told.

When Mr Woodhouse said the bank was anxious to ensure there was no disruption to the Quinn business, Mr Quinn, who was in court, shook his head.

Mr Woodhouse said the bank was owed “an obscene amount of money” and had to secure the asset for the bank. He accepted that Mr Quinn did not now have access to his former offices in Derrylin and that a lot of his personal papers remained there. Mr Woodhouse said he had been advised to stay away from Derrylin.

The bank is seeking to have Mr Quinn’s bankruptcy status in Northern Ireland annulled on the grounds that his centre of main interests is his home in Co Cavan. Mr Quinn has said he is operating from an office in an industrial estate in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh.

However William Gowdy, for the Official Receiver’s Office, said the address of this industrial estate was different to the address in Derrylin used by Mr Quinn when he applied for bankruptcy in November.

Mr Quinn has produced a lease dated May 2011 for the Derrylin office but Gabriel Moss QC, for the bank, has suggested it is a “back dated lease manufactured” for the purposes of the argument being made by Mr Quinn to the courts.

The hearing is before Mr Justice Donal Deeny.