IBRC seeks details on Quinns’ involvement with QuinnBet
Information relevant to assessment of family living expenses, court told
The Quinns on Tuesday withdrew their application to further vary orders freezing their accounts below sums for living and other agreed expenses. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
Irish Bank Resolution Corporation has indicated it will apply for High Court orders aimed at getting information about any employment of members of Seán Quinn’s family with QuinnBet, a new online betting venture owned by the businessman.
The source of funding of any employment or consultancy work by the Quinns for QuinnBet is relevant to assessment of reasonable living expenses in the context of continuing freezing orders over accounts of family members, Mr Justice Robert Haughton was told.
In another hearing in the marathon litigation initiated in 2011 by State-owned IBRC against members of the family and various companies over alleged stripping of assets from the Quinns’ international property group (IPG), the Quinns on Tuesday withdrew their application to further vary orders freezing their accounts below sums for living and other agreed expenses.
Mr Quinn’s five adult children, along with Stephen Kelly, Niall McPartland and Karen Woods, (respectively spouses of Aoife, Ciara and Seán Quinn jnr) had claimed the orders, made from 2012, prevented them living “normal” lives.
IBRC special liquidator Kieran Wallace opposed certain orders being varied due to alleged “demonstrable dishonesty” of the Quinns and an alleged scheme to strip up to €455 million assets from the IPG. The Quinns denied dishonesty and said they have no control over, and do not know the whereabouts of, the IPG assets.
Agreement was reached earlier this year on some matters in the variation application, including children’s allowance payments and living expenses.
Also on Tuesday, IBRC sought and secured an order from Mr Justice Haughton extending the freezing order to a shareholding of Karen Woods in Jefferies stockbrokers from which living expenses of the couple are paid. The Quinns did not oppose that order.
Part of the Jefferies account is already subject of the freezing order and he would extend the order to the remainder, the judge said. The source of funds in the account was “unclear” and potentially comes from companies in the Quinns’ international property group, he said.
The day-long hearing involving considerable dispute including over living expenses, property and legal costs.
IBRC was represented by two senior and one junior counsel, plus solicitors. The joint receivers appointed over their assets were also represented by two senior counsel, plus solicitors.
The Quinns were represented by two solicitors and junior counsel, Ross Aylward, who queried why the receivers required legal representation when, he argued, they could have relied on their sworn statement and IBRC’s submissions. The taxpayer was effectively paying for “two State agencies” to be represented, he said.
Brian Murray SC, for IBRC, said it had adopted a reasonable approach to varying the orders but had to procure extensive material to address a range of issues before being told last week the application was not proceeding and were entitled to costs.
Andrew Fitzpatrick SC, for the receivers, also sought costs, saying they required to be represented for reasons including the variation application raised “very significant” questions including about the Quinns co-operation with the receivers.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Haughton said it was “critical” to any agreement concerning personal expenses there be full disclosure of salaries and means and anything else relevant. It should have been made known to IBRC and the receivers earlier it was anticipated some of the Quinns will get salaries from QuinnBet, he said.
He also shared concerns of IBRC and the receivers that a property of Seán Quinn jnr and Karen Woods at Alder Lodge, Castleknock, rented for some €3,000 monthly till March last, now appeared occupied by Brenda Quinn at a monthly rent of about €1,000. The property was previously excluded from the freezing orders on consent on the basis it would be sold within a reasonable time, he said.
IBRC and the receivers were entitled to their costs against the Quinns for reasons including, apart from agreement on some minor aspects, the substantive variation application was withdrawn, he held.
Because the Quinns denied the receivers claims of non-co-operation and also advanced a series of claims against the receivers, including of “over-litigating”, the receivers were entitled to be heard, he said.
He agreed with Mr Aylward it would be “punitive” not to give the Quinns a stay on the costs orders when they were subject to account freezing orders. IBRC and the receivers had opposed a stay but the judge granted it.
After the ruling, Paul Gallagher SC, also for IBRC, said it will bring a motion aimed at securing information concerning involvement by members of the family with QuinnBet.