Seán Quinn denies beneficial interest in QBRC

Businessman says he has no legal interest in materials firm, and no entitlement to one

Former billionaire Seán Quinn told the office that oversees bankrupts that he has no legal or beneficial interest in QBRC Ltd, the company that recently bought the construction materials divisions of his former manufacturing business in a deal worth approximately €100 million.

Official Assignee Chris Lehane wrote to Mr Quinn about the matter on January 5th, in the wake of media reports that Mr Quinn was going to be acting as a paid advisor to QBRC, which was set up by a number of former executives of the Quinn Group. Copies of correspondence between Mr Lehane, Mr Quinn and Mr Quinn's daughter, Aoife Quinn, were presented to the Bankruptcy Court yesterday when a two-year €10,000 per annum payment order was made by Ms Justice Caroline Costello.

On January 5th, Mr Lehane’s office lodged a notice of motion saying he would be seeking an income payment order on January 12th, seeking a two-year payment order for €1 a month.

Mr Lehane, in an affidavit, said he was assessing Mr Quinn’s income in the wake of media reports and was due to receive up-to-date details by close of business on January 5th. He said he wanted to secure the initial €1 per month order which could then be amended once his examination of Mr Quinn’s income was concluded.

The correspondence opens on December 22nd, 2014, when Mr Lehane wrote to Mr Quinn asking him to fill out an income payment assessment form, which would, where applicable, be accompanied by payslips or social welfare slips or rent and mortgage payment records.

On January 2nd, Mr Lehane emailed Ms Quinn asking if she and her father could meet him on January 5th, to discuss the family home and an income payment order (IPO).“I would hope to agree an IPO with your father for two years, which is as you appreciate considerably less than [the] five year maximum I can seek under the Act,” he said. “Given I am putting in place five-year orders in all new cases, I do believe a fair contribution towards his debts over two years is a reasonable request for your father.”

On Monday, January 5th, Mr Lehane emailed Ms Quinn including papers and letters that were to be served on her father that evening. “What time suits him to meet us on Thursday?” he wrote. “If we can agree a two-year IPO, your father need not attend [court] on Monday.”

In a letter to Mr Quinn on the same date, Mr Lehane referred to media reports concerning certain investors buying parts of the former Quinn Group.

After-acquired asset

“As official assignee, I am naturally concerned that you may have an interest in such purchase and accordingly that it may be an after-acquired asset in your bankruptcy estate.

“I accordingly wish to formally claim under section 44 of the Bankruptcy Act 1988 as an after acquired asset, any interest acquired by you in the course of such purchase directly or indirectly, whether in law or equity or any entitlement in the future to have any such interest transferred to you or persons nominated by you.”

Mr Lehane said he appreciated he had not been in contact with Mr Quinn before about the matter “and it may well be that you acquired no such interest or entitlement”. He said he would appreciate the return of the income payment assessment form as soon as possible.

A second letter informed Mr Quinn of the pending court application and advised him he should attend the hearing.

On January 6th, Mr Quinn wrote back to Mr Lehane saying he was naturally concerned by the contents of the correspondence. “Kindly note, over the past few months my daughter Aoife has emailed your office requesting a meeting to ensure everything was in order with my forthcoming discharge from the bankruptcy process.”

He said he was including a finalised copy of a statement as to his income. “You will note that my financial position has not altered in the last three years or since your office last requested me to complete an assessment of my income, on August 9th, 2013.” He said he had “no legal or beneficial interest in QBRC now, or any entitlement to one in the future. I am not employed by QBRC and/or any company or otherwise and my sole income remains my State pension.”

His income remained below that outlined in the guideline for reasonable expenses that governs bankrupts. As these matters could be readily clarified, “I would hope that your intended application can now be withdrawn, as my significant shortfall of income has now been established.”

He said he looked forward to the meeting on January 8th.

Proposal accepted

In a second affidavit to the court, dated January 9th, Mr Lehane said he had met Mr Quinn the previous day and accepted a proposal from him concerning a payment order “which is reflective not of any income presently earned but of income that may be derived from his involvement in his former businesses over the next two years”.

In an email on January 8th, Ms Quinn said her father consented to the order Mr Lehane was going to seek, and to his draft affidavit. Mr Quinn would not be attending court but wished to “take the opportunity to thank the court and the Office of the Official Assignee for the reciprocal respect shown to him over the last three years”.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent