Indian officials seize $80m former Quinn office park from IBRC

Tax authority division said it took control under laws regulating movement of assets out of India

The Q City business park in Hyderabad, India, which has been seized by local authorities from IBRC

The Q City business park in Hyderabad, India, which has been seized by local authorities from IBRC

 

India’s financial crime agency has seized control of Q City, an estimated $80 million office park in Hyderabad formerly owned by the family of Sean Quinn, from State-controlled IBRC.

IBRC, which is run by KPMG liquidators Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson, is due in court in India on Monday to appeal the seizure, which was carried out in recent weeks by India’s enforcement directorate (ED).

A division of India’s tax authorities, ED said it took control of the office park under Indian laws regulating the movement of assets out of the country and the taxation of those transactions.

The Indian authorities claim that the company that owns the park, Mack Soft Tech Private, moved close to $15 million out of the country to companies in the Middle East and Hong Kong between 2011 and 2015.

This occurred long before IBRC gained formal control of Q City earlier this year, as part of the bank’s long-running battle to seize the former assets of the Quinns to settle judgments registered by the bank.

IBRC declined to comment on the matter.

Pursuit of assets

In a previous High Court court action in Dublin in 2018 as part of the pursuit of assets formerly controlled by Mr Quinn’s group of companies, Mr Wallace alleged that his office had uncovered “sham transactions” at Q City relating to fake software purchases in Hong Kong and Dubai.

“The sole purpose of these transactions is … to extract many millions of dollars from Mack Soft, effectively dissipating its assets and its value,” Mr Wallace told the court at that time.

This chimes with the rationale put forward in recent weeks by ED for its actions at Q City, where it said it was investigating the alleged “siphoning” of funds in years past.

It is understood that ED last month took control of Q City using an instrument known as an attachment order, which is effectively a state-backed way of taking control of assets to settle tax bills.

It is unclear if this order means ED gains control of the rent roll at the park, whose tenants include multinational tech firms such as Amazon. This is one of the issues that is likely to be argued in court on Monday.

The disputed transactions at the centre of the row were originally investigated by the ED four years ago, but further action was not taken at that time. In recent months, however, the case was reopened by officials at ED.

Alleged tax bill

It is understood that discussions had been ongoing recently between the now IBRC-controlled Mack Soft and Indian officials over the past transactions and the alleged tax bill accrued.

IBRC, which includes the former Anglo Irish Bank, recently installed new directors at Mack Soft, including Robert Dix and Paul McGowan, former partners at KPMG, as part of the bank’s efforts to regularise the affairs of Mack Soft.

IBRC’s liquidators previously alleged to the High Court in Dublin that Q City took in rents of $37 million between 2011 and 2017, but that only $88,000 was left in its accounts.

The complex, which comprises 245,000sq ft of prime office space in the city that is India’s tech hub, was one of the jewels in the network of international property assets previously controlled by the Quinns.