Quinns may challenge courts' right to hear case

 

BUSINESSMAN SEÁN Quinn and his family may challenge the jurisdiction of the Irish courts to hear a legal action by Anglo Irish Bank aimed at preventing the family transferring assets from Swedish companies behind the family’s properties in several countries.

Anglo, owed €2.8 billion by Quinn interests, claims the Quinn family set up a “mirror corporate structure”, the Cranaghan Foundation, in a “systematic attempt” to transfer assets to “mirror” Quinn companies for the benefit of the family, including Mr Quinn’s children and grandchildren.

Anglo executive Richard Woodhouse claimed Peter Quinn – Mr Quinn’s nephew who managed the family’s international property interests – had moved €4.5 million from a Russian bank account into which rental income on a Moscow office block was paid to meet loan repayments to Anglo.

Paul Gallagher SC, for Anglo, told the High Court yesterday the bank had just learned that a company called Finansstroy, which had held the funds in the Russian bank, had filed for bankruptcy and funds were transferred after that on June 3rd. He did not know what impact that had.

Mr Gallagher said he learned that an injunction was secured on June 26th against Anglo in a court in Nicosia, Cyprus, which was returnable to next week.

Mr Justice Frank Clarke has adjourned the Anglo proceedings to tomorrow to allow the sides to make further preparations for the hearing of Anglo’s application for an interlocutory order (to apply pending the outcome of a full legal action) restraining the transfer of assets from Swedish companies holding Quinn family assets in Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and India.

The judge has continued until tomorrow interim orders granted by him last Monday restraining that transfer. He was told the sides would not be ready to proceed with the interlocutory application tomorrow but hoped that hearing would proceed next week.

Brian O’Moore SC, with Bill Shipsey SC, for the Quinns, said his side were in court subject to what they would say about the court’s jurisdiction. There was a potential issue about the court’s ability to make orders that would have ramifications in Russia, Cyprus and Sweden, he said.

Mr O’Moore said his side was notified on Monday evening that the order had been made about 5.30pm that day and got no papers until the following day. It was “surprising and regrettable”, in a case of this consequence, “things did not move at the speed of light”.

His side noted Anglo was to provide it with corrections to certain matters in Mr Woodhouse’s affidavit, Mr O’Moore added.

Mr Justice Clarke said he had not ruled on jurisdiction when granting the interim orders but had made a finding there was a sufficient case for the interim order.

In an affidavit for Anglo, Robert Dix, appointed chairman of Quinn Finance and Quinn International Property Management last April by the bank’s appointed receiver Kieran Wallace, said he was given a document marked “strictly private and confidential” on a Quinn Group computer drive to which only five executives had access.

That document was created on March 30th last by executive Gary Conway and comprised a corporate structure chart based around an entity called the Cranaghan Foundation, Mr Dix said.

In that chart, there were five top entities called “Irish Family Branch I-V” which sat above the Cranaghan Trust while four named companies sat below it, all described as “Sweden”. Two Irish companies and another company sat under Russian Trust AB, called LPServices LLC, he said.