Quinn clan's legal comings and goings


Cantillon:The comings and goings on the Quinn family’s legal team is like the Four Courts answer to Lanigan’s Ball. You’d be forgiven for wondering if this is a tactical move by the family to prolong the legal proceedings.

Barrister Maddie Grant, who had represented Seán Quinn in court before he was sentenced to a nine-week term, told the court on Tuesday that she had been told her services and those of her father, Eugene Grant QC, were no longer required.

The solicitor briefing the Grants was Kevin Winters in Belfast. Grant told the court she would be bringing a motion to come off record in the case.

Another barrister, Ross Aylward, told the court that he and a new firm of solicitors would be coming on record for Quinn’s five children and three of their spouses.

He asked the court for more time to file a defence to the action brought against the children by the former Anglo Irish Bank. The court duly obliged.

Niall McPartland, a solicitor and husband of Ciara Quinn, has been representing the family on various occasions in court.

Last month Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne adjourned a hearing in the bank’s contempt case against Seán Quinn snr by just two weeks to allow his then new legal team, led by Mr Grant, time to get up to speed.

Quinn’s previous legal team included Bill Shipsey SC, Brian O’Moore SC and solicitors Eversheds. They came off record on September 3rd last as the family said it could no longer pay them, although they represented Seán Quinn jnr in his unsuccessful Supreme Court appeal on his three-month sentence for contempt last month.

The Quinn children were supposed to have filed a defence to the bank’s claim against them by September but no explanation was given why they hadn’t.

On Tuesday Mr Justice Peter Kelly gave them one more week. Let’s hope they don’t have to find more new lawyers.

No love for Government e-tender website

Something of a war of words has broken out over the Government’s troubled eTenders website. Since its launch last week, eTenders.gov.iehas drawn a steady stream of invective from disgruntled users, frustrated with login problems, page errors, site crashes and the loss of account information.

The fiasco has prompted a series of apologetic statements from the National Procurement Service (NPS) on behalf of the site’s operator, EU Supply. The Swedish company had won the contract to operate the site by beating off incumbent Millstream, which ran the site when it was under aegis of the Department of Finance.

In an apparent bid to capitalise on its successor’s bad press last week, Millstream launched a rival site, myTenders.ie.

Yesterday it upped the ante by formally inviting users to join its new site in a circular mail under the subject line “Do you miss the reliability and facilities of the old eTenders website?”.

In its mail, the Scottish group noted with glee that “eTenders and its new Swedish operator have attracted well-documented criticism from users in the press and social media”.

This cheeky pitch for business, however, incurred the wrath of the NPS. In a follow- up mail, it cautioned users to ignore “unsolicited emails and invitations” from Millstream, reminding them that “myTenders is NOT eTenders”. It said it had not given its authorisation to Millstream to make any contact with suppliers in relation to its new myTenders service and that Millstream breached the data protection laws by sending its email.

Following this angry missive, a more sheepish Millstream contacted suppliers, saying it had been “in discussion” with the Data Protection Commissioner and it wished to apologise for its email inviting users to join its site. “As the previous operator of the eTenders website, we had access to the contact details for all of the registered users, but as the Data Protection Commissioner’s office has stressed, we should not have used this in order to market our new service.”

Markets don’t take kindly to HP troubles

Hewlett Packard is in a world of trouble and the market does not appear to be buying the argument that all or most of it is down to accounting at Autonomy. In fact, the growing sense in comments yesterday was that the bigger problem was in how HP accounted for the Autonomy acquisition.

In her broadside on Tuesday, HP chief executive Meg Whitman said the bulk of the $8.8 billion writedown of last year’s $11 billion deal was down to “accounting improprieties”, “disclosure failings and outright misrepresentation”. That attack came alongside poor quarterly figures for a company still struggling to restructure itself and which has never quite got over the controversial departure of former chief executive Mark Hurd.

Gartner analyst Neil McDonald said it had been evident from earlier this year that HP had overpaid. “When HP took a charge for EDS, the question we had was, ‘when are you going to take the charge for Autonomy’? It was clear they had overpaid. At least they came clean about it [now].”

Whitman returned to the fray in a con- ference call yesterday. No hard figures were provided, with Whitman instead noting that the board had “relied on audited financials – audited by Deloitte – not Brand X accounting firm but Deloitte”.

Autonomy founder, Tipperary-born Mike Lynch , has come out fighting, saying the allegations just don’t stack up. “HP is looking for scapegoats, and I’m afraid I’m not going to be one of those.”

Bloomberg pointed to the $6.9 billion in goodwill on the deal booked in HP’s accounts as evidence of the amount HP had paid over the value of Autonomy’s assets and its awareness of it.

Meanwhile, HP shares continue to slide. Having lost almost 12 per cent on Tuesday, they were another 2.5 per cent weaker yesterday, bringing the year-to-date loss in value for the stock close to 54 per cent.

Despite only taking over as chief executive since the deal, Whitman is vulnerable following a report last May in Fortune magazine which said HP chief financial officer Cathie Lesjak told a board meeting ahead of the deal that she was totally opposed to the acquisition, thinking it was too expensive. Fortune suggested the 11x revenues multiple was close to four times the figure for comparable deals.

As investigations begin, Whitman is unlikely to be the only director shifting uncomfortably in her boardroom chair.




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