Court adjourns hearing on Quinn transactions
Outstanding issues between family and receivers remain to be resolved
A hearing in relation to transactions involving the Quinn family has been adjourned. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times
A hearing to decide whether members of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn’s family have adequately explained 67 transactions involving movement of substantial sums between national and international accounts in 2011 and 2012 has been adjourned on consent.
The adjournment is to see whether outstanding issues between the Quinns and receivers appointed over their accounts and assets can be resolved via correspondence rather than the substantially more costly exercise of court applications.
Receivers Declan Taite and Sharon Barrett had brought an application after alleging the Quinns had failed to fully comply with orders of February last requiring them to explain some 67 transactions, and why a laptop belonging to Aoife Quinn’s husband, Stephen Kelly, was devoid of data.
The receivers sought those explanations in the context of an earlier application by the Quinns permitting variations of freezing orders imposed on their accounts since July 2012 for purposes including payment of tax and other bills.
Earlier this month, the receivers claimed explanations provided in a letter of May 8th for some of the 67 transactions lacked “any real credibility” and applied for the Quinns to swear those explanations on affidavit. The Quinns, who insisted they had provided full explanations and had co-operated with the receivers, provided that affidavit.
Today, when the matter returned before Mr Justice Peter Kelly, he was told by Michael Collins SC, for the receivers, progress had been made but the receivers still had concerns.
The Quinns had provided 5,511 documents they considered relevant and 277,411 documents they considered irrelevant and the receivers wanted to ascertain whether some of the latter were relevant. While he accepted many of the latter category included photos and other personal material, Mr Taite had queried whether there was a photo of a Russian document, counsel said.
Charlotte Simpson BL, for the Quinns, said they had spent four full days sitting with Mr Taite in an office while he went through documents, answered all queries put to them and were never asked any question about a photo of a Russian document.
There was no such photo, and her clients were very upset about the manner in which their compliance was now being depicted, counsel said.
Mr Collins said Mr Taite was not complaining about the Quinns’ “cordial” attendance when the documents were being examined, but that this examination was “a drop in the ocean” given the vast number of documents to be gone through. Part of the receivers’ application was for two solicitors and three people from the receivers’ firm to assist in that exercise.
Ms Simpson said the Quinns would agree to this provided the solicitors were not involved in the separate litigation by the family against IBRC.
Mr Justice Kelly said the sides had agreed to adjourn because the process to decide what remained at issue between them was continuing. The receivers wanted to adjourn to a specific date, but the Quinns wanted the matter adjourned generally with liberty to apply.
The judge said he would adjourn the matter generally because the matters might be resolved in correspondence and, if so, that would save incurring additional and unnecessary costs.
Under the February 27th order, the Quinns agreed to explain transactions which they had earlier disclosed. These included a €735,000 credit payment, dated May 2011, from the account of a wind farm company, now in receivership, to an account held by Ciara Quinn and a daughter of Ms Quinn.
Other transactions involved substantial six-figure payments to international lawyers.
In their letter of May 8th, solicitors for the Quinns said Quinn Windfarm Ltd and Snugborough Ltd were the source of some transfers, including the May 2011 transfer of €735,000 to Ciara Quinn’s account, due to concerns those companies’ “separate” assets might become infected by the “unlawful receivership” of the Quinn Group. Payments were then made from Ms Quinn’s account on behalf of the companies, it added.
The source of smaller transactions involving various Quinn family members included their employment with Quinn Insurance, while some lodgments may also have come from their employment with Russian companies, the letter said. Earlier this month, Ms Simpson told the judge the Quinns “strongly and strenuously” deny allegations made to IBRC by unidentified informants that instructions were provided for the movement of some €500 million of Quinn assets beyond the bank’s reach.