Former Quinn company says ‘intimidation’ of its executives has resumed
QIH says it will take legal action over ‘false allegations’ made against staff and owners
Sean Quinn: criticised the running of Quinn Industrial Holdings at a public meeting last month, and has publicly condemned attacks against QIH personnel and property in the past. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) says it is preparing legal action against people purporting to be supporters of the company’s former owner Seán Quinn who have made critical comments about the company and its executives online.
The group’s chairman has also written to its staff warning of a “resumption of false allegations and intimidation against QIH, its owners, officers and staff”. This allegedly includes “physical intimidation” against people linked to QIH.
Hours after the letter was sent by Adrian Barden to staff on Friday, a suspected arson attack was carried out by persons unknown at a Cavan tyre plant linked to the family of a QIH senior executive.
Mr Quinn, who originally founded the business, has publicly condemned attacks against QIH personnel and property in the past.
The letter to all QIH staff by Mr Barden, written on behalf of the board and the US hedge funds that control the business, was in response to a public meeting last month in Cavan in support of Mr Quinn, who lost control of the industrials group during the crash.
He rejoined as a consultant in 2015 when US funds backed a local buyout of old Quinn Group assets, but left again in 2016 after a dispute with the new owners.
At the meeting last month, an emotional Mr Quinn criticised the running of the business and claimed it needs “major capital investment”. He also reiterated that he wants to buy it back.
“So it is a mess. Could I sort it out? Well let’s put it this way, I don’t think there’s anybody [else] that would be able to sort it out better,” he said.
In his letter on Friday, Mr Barden alleged that “false information concerning QIH and its historical relationship with Seán Quinn was propagated” at the public meeting. It said QIH’s is “arguably on its strongest footing”, with sales up 29 per cent.
Mr Barden said the US backers had supported a local consortium in buying out the remnants of the Quinn Group on “the explicit condition” that Mr Quinn have no management role or ownership stake, given his financial difficulties and his role in the business prior to it entering difficulties.
He said the local consortium “advocated strongly” for a role for Mr Quinn, and so the US investors “acceded” to his consultancy contract.
“Seán’s expectations for the business were incompatible with their views,” Mr Barden wrote.
He said Mr Quinn raised allegations about some of those who run the business. The board “hired third-party advisers”, believed to be BDO, who reviewed the allegations, “and each allegation was proven to be completely false”.
Mr Barden criticised a “resurgence of negativity and misinformation” about QIH and promised “robust” action against anonymous critics, “commencing with legal action against those propagating misinformation online”.
It is understood that QIH has obtained information about the identities of some of those allegedly posting negative comments about the business online.