Quinn expenses case told of ‘misappropriation on a grand scale’
Court hears of $13m extracted from Indian company
Sean Quinn Jr and his wife, Karen Woods have been receiving €100,000 per year in living expenses. Photograph: Collins Courts
Complaints by Sean Quinn jnr and his wife Karen Woods about a recent failure to pay some of their €100,000 annual living expenses should be seen in the context of a “scheme of misappropriation on a grand scale”, the High Court has been told.
Some $13 million (€10 million) was extracted from a company in India “and we don’t know where that has gone”, Barry O’Donnell SC, for the special liquidators of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, said.
He said information from India and Hong Kong showed “a scheme of misappropriation” was executed, over time and especially in 2010, at the instigation, and for the benefit, of members of the Quinn family.
The transactions at issue “have never been explained” and while the family maintain they had no idea what was going on, that is “wholly implausible”, he said. This, and the fact Mr Quinn and his wife are receiving close to €100,000 annually in living expenses, was of concern to the bank and it was “imperative” the matters were addressed.
Ross Aylward BL, for Mr Quinn and Ms Woods, said there was no sworn statement from the bank concerning those matters which were issues for the full trial of the bank’s case against the Quinns alleging conspiracy to put assets beyond its reach, and not for this application about living expenses.
The dispute about living expenses arises as a result of orders, dating from 2012, freezing accounts of the Quinns pending the full hearing of the bank’s case, subject to the family being paid reasonable living expenses and funds for legal fees.
On Wednesday, Mr Justice Robert Haughton said, while he was prepared to grant the parties’ request to adjourn to March the hearing of the living expenses dispute, he hoped the sides would try and resolve it without taking up further court time in the long-running litigation.
The judge’s statement to the sides that he intended orders made by him last year to apply to all relevant accounts, including an account held by Ms Woods with Jeffreys stockbrokers, may address some of the matters raised concerning payment of living expenses.
Also on Wednesday, the judge said a property at Alder Lodge, Castleknock, belonging to Mr Quinn, should be sold. Andrew Fitzpatrick SC, for receivers appointed over the frozen accounts, had complained that the property should have been sold on foot of court orders last year permitting its sale.
The property is not on the market and Brenda Quinn is living there for a monthly rent of €1,000, paid to the receivers.
On being told Mr Quinn does not believe it is a good time to sell with property prices still rising, the judge suggested he “might be wrong” and this could be a good time. Mr O’Donnell said no one can predict what will happen and it was “foolish” to believe a market rises continually.
“I don’t have to explain that as I’m standing here for the special liquidators of IBRC,” he said.
Mr Fitzpatrick said the receivers consider the rental arrangement for Alder Lodge is a breach of the freezing orders because the rent is below market value.
The court heard Mr Quinn owns another property at Clarion Quay in Dublin which is rented to tenants with the rental payments going to KBC Bank, which holds a mortgage over the property. The intention is to sell that property, discharge the mortgage with KBC and pay any balance to the receivers and that matter will be addressed later.
Having been told Mr Quinn and other family members have been working unpaid for some months for Quinn Bet, a new business set up by his father, the judge said Mr Quinn appeared to have an “unusual” contract of employment and queried whether there is “visibility” over arrangements with that company.
Mr Aylward said Mr Quinn had provided his contract to the receivers, he and Ms Woods had also provided statements of affairs and complied with orders to provide information to the receivers. Ms Woods is not employed at present and Mr Quinn accepts, if he gets an income from QuinnBet in the future, that will affect the living expenses orders, he added.