A Dutch firm is regularly monitoring compliance with Ukraine war-related sanctions on Russian properties once owned by Seán Quinn’s family, a source familiar with the assets has said.
Bergkamp Investments, which manages commercial properties in Russia and Ukraine on behalf of the former Anglo Irish Bank special liquidators and the liquidators themselves, assess the effect of the sanctions imposed on Russia every fortnight to ensure no rules are broken around the management of the assets.
The properties, the 20-storey Kutuzoff Tower in Moscow and a logistics centre in Kazan, both in Russia, and the Univermag shopping centre and a six-storey office block in Kyiv, Ukraine, were part of the property group once worth €455 million and owned by Mr Quinn’s children.
The war in Ukraine has postponed the planned sale of the properties, delaying a pay-off that would go towards reducing Mr Quinn’s large debt to the nationalised former bank. The Kyiv shopping centre and office block reopened in the months after February’s invasion.
The assets are ultimately controlled by the special liquidators appointed to State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, formerly Anglo, which will eventually sell the assets with the cash being used to reduce Mr Quinn’s debts. He owed the bank €2.88 billion when it collapsed.
Western sanctions introduced in the wake of Russia’s invasion put financial constraints on money flows with rent from the State-owned commercial properties remaining in the local subsidiaries of the Dutch holding company controlled by IBRC.
The liquidators said in September in their most recent public update that it was “extremely difficult” to assess the war’s impact on the value of the Russian and Ukrainian assets and that a sale could occur in 2024, but this depends on “stabilisation of the Russian and Ukrainian markets”.
RTÉ’s three-part documentary series, Quinn Country, on the rise and fall of the industrialist, once Ireland’s richest man, has brought renewed focus on his former business empire and the cost left to the public from his Anglo bet and the shortfall against future claims at Quinn Insurance.
More than €2.3 billion was loaned to the businessman by Anglo as the share price crashed during the 2008 financial crisis, leaving the State to bear the cost of Mr Quinn’s heavy investment through contracts-for-difference, a form of leveraged bet, on the bank’s share price.
IBRC moved against his business and property empire in 2011 to recoup its debts.
Mr Quinn revealed in the documentary, written by journalist Trevor Birney and produced by Fine Point Films, that he decided to move assets in the family’s international property empire beyond the reach of the bank on the day IBRC seized his business empire.
“People were on airplanes that evening trying to agree [on] individuals we could move assets into different names to keep them safe,” he said.
The businessman was later jailed for nine weeks for contempt of court in 2012 over the plan.
In further reaction to the RTÉ series, Fr Oliver O’Reilly, a priest who condemned the attack on former Quinn executive Kevin Lunney in September 2019 in sermons, said he found comments made by Mr Quinn’s wife, Patricia, in the documentary “hurtful”.
In the series, Mrs Quinn described the priest as a “back-stabber” over his sermon in which he blamed “a mafia-style group with its own godfather” for the attack. Mr Quinn has denied any involvement in the attack or the campaign of intimidation and vandalism directed at his former executives and businesses since he lost control of them.
The 75-year-old priest denied he was referring to Mr Quinn in his sermon when he was then parish priest of Ballyconnell in Co Cavan.
“If you speak out on issues, you expect maybe some recrimination. It’s part of the job; it’s the risk in your job but to me I never referred to the Quinn family in any sense,” he told the Irish Mail on Sunday.
He also said he received a “sort of tip-off” that his car would be burned over the remarks and that he subsequently installed security cameras at his home as a precaution.