Quinn admits his family lost €1bn in Anglo

 

BUSINESSMAN SEÁN Quinn has confirmed that his family has sustained losses in excess of €1 billion on its investments in Anglo Irish Bank, but vigorously denied any impropriety in relation to his sharedealings in the bank.

In an interview broadcast on RTÉ yesterday evening, Mr Quinn said he and his family had written off their investments in Anglo.

However, he stressed that they could absorb the loss as Quinn Group makes €400-€500 million profit a year, and he strongly denied any wrongdoing.

“We were totally innocent. Anything we done, we paid the price for it,” he said.

While the investment was “a bad mistake”, and loss is “hurtful”, he said he believed a lot of individuals and companies had lost a lot more in share dealings than his family.

“I suppose in hindsight we were too greedy by . . . being so much involved in stocks and shares,” he conceded.

Responding to negative criticism of his family’s stock market investments, he dismissed speculation of any wrongdoing as “outlandish”. Mr Quinn resigned from the board of Quinn Insurance last October for failing to notify the Financial Regulator about loans of €288 million to other Quinn companies which were used to invest in Anglo.

Commenting on this yesterday, he said that “there was no big issue” with this loan, and while it was a breach of regulations he did not view it as improper.

“We said at the time, and we still say, there was never any risk to policyholders, shareholders, there was no risk to anybody,” he said.

“We don’t owe anybody any great apology,” he continued. “If we owe an apology to anybody it’s our staff. Maybe we slowed up the growth of the company, and maybe the reputation was tarnished.”

When asked what he would change from the last 24 months, he said that he certainly wouldn’t have bought shares. “I would have invested more of my money in India and Russia.”

“I never envisaged for one minute that what happened would happen,” he added. He said he felt a “media frenzy” had built up around the Quinn Group, which is a “great employer”, and that he had no idea why “the agenda is to get Quinn”.

The Financial Regulator is looking into the circumstances surrounding Mr Quinn’s investment in Anglo by way of contracts for difference. He originally built up an indirect interest of 25 per cent before converting it to a direct holding of 15 per cent after its shares collapsed. This, followed by the nationalisation of the bank, led to his losses.

The remaining portion of his stake – 10 per cent of the bank – was offloaded directly to other investors.