Philip McDonagh, Ireland’s Ambassador to Russia, has said recovering assets related to the Quinn family may help trade relations between the two nations.
Four months ago, Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), which has since been liquidated, said it was starting a joint venture with A1, a unit of billionaire Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group, to recoup real estate assets in Russia and Ukraine accumulated by the Quinn family.
Mr McDonagh said recovering the assets is of “paramount importance” to Ireland, and A1 president Mikhail Khabarov said he was “confident” it could be done.
“These assets belong to a nationalised bank and ultimately they belong to the Irish government and every Irish person,” Mr McDonagh told reporters in Moscow yesterday.
Seán Quinn, his son Seán jnr and nephew Peter Quinn placed assets outside the reach of IBRC, previously Anglo Irish, after the courts ordered them to stop last year, Judge Elizabeth Dunne said last June.
Irish businessmen, including Mr Quinn and Quinlan Private's Derek Quinlan, were some of the biggest foreign investors in Russian commercial property during the Celtic Tiger period.
IBRC has had a "number of unsolicited offers" from banks and other parties because the assets are attractive, according to senior manager Stephen Kenny.
“A competitive tender wouldn’t have worked,” Mr Kenny said in an interview at the Moscow briefing. “The bank sought internal and external advice. It was important we got a partner suitable for a state-owned entity.”
A1 is paying to participate in the joint venture, Mr Kenny said. It will get 30 per cent from the sale of recovered assets, according to an A1 statement.
Efforts have already been successfully made to stop assets being moved to Belize and Panama, Mr Kenny said.
Progress has been made in reclaiming a shopping mall in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev along with assets in Moscow and the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, he added.
It emerged earlier this week that an audit of the company that operates the Kiev mall formerly owned by the Quinns showed up to $15 million may have been transferred out of the company's accounts in the 2011/2012 period.
All assets recovered will be sold on the open market, Mr Kenny said. A1, formerly known as Alfa-Eco, was set up in 1989 as the first main company in the Alfa Group Consortium. It has helped manage billions of dollars of assets for the group in energy, metals, telecommunications and retail.