Seven donors to Quinn fund have links with family, court told

High-profile businessman among contributors to trust used to pay legal bills

Some 34 individuals and companies have been identified as having contributed funds to the trust used to pay the Quinn family’s legal bills.  Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Some 34 individuals and companies have been identified as having contributed funds to the trust used to pay the Quinn family’s legal bills. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

Seven donors to a trust funding former billionaire businessman Sean Quinn’s legal bills allegedly have clear connections with his family, the High Court in Belfast heard today.

A judge was also told one of those on a list of contributors is a high-profile businessman in the Republic.

Details emerged as a receiver seeking to locate any Quinn assets was refused permission to pass newly discovered information to the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation in Dublin.

The application was made in an attempt to obtain more information for ongoing proceedings in the North. But Lord Justice Girvan rejected the application after describing it as a “fishing expedition”.

Once Ireland’s richest man, Fermanagh-born Mr Quinn lost control of his business empire when it collapsed six years ago. Receiver Declan Taite was subsequently appointed by IBRC, formerly known as Anglo Irish Bank, to identify assets.

Erne Group Trust

A list of 34 individuals and companies have been identified as having contributed funds to the Erne Group Trust.

The trust, set up in 2012, has reportedly paid nearly €1.7 million towards the cost of the Quinn family’s litigation and associated fees in the Republic. Although the donors remain publicly confidential, an order was previously made for their names and amounts contributed to be disclosed to the receiver.

He has issued court proceedings in an attempt to clarify the situation surrounding the trust. Seeking authorisation to provide information to IBRC, counsel for the receiver argued that it would help gain a better understanding about the Quinns’ “Byzantine” links.

Referring to the list of donors, Stephen Shaw QC said: “He finds that seven in particular will have a clear, tangent and cogent connection with the family Quinn.”

‘The mischief’

Pressed by the judge, Mr Shaw confirmed part of his case involves an allegation that some of the money paid into the trust actually came from Sean Quinn.

“If it were Quinn assets washed through donors’ hands and back into the benefit of the Quinns, that’s the mischief,” he added.

Opposing the application, Mark Orr QC, for representatives of the trust, argued that the case was not a public inquiry. He said most of those on the list were business contacts who had dealt extensively with Mr Quinn over decades.

“There are 34 donors on the list and Mr Taite has identified seven; there’s nothing about the other 27 and that’s after two and a half months of having this information,” Mr Orr said.

He added that six of the seven live in the Republic, with the other based in the North. “One in particular has a high profile in the Republic,” Mr Orr confirmed.

Denying the bid to pass details to officials in Dublin, Lord Justice Girvan told the parties to be ready to continue the case in January.