Court to rule on Quinns contempt


A High Court judge will consider tomorrow whether bankrupt businessman Seán Quinn, his son Sean and nephew Peter have made genuine efforts to purge their contempt of court orders restraining them placing multi-million property assets beyond the reach of the former Anglo Irish Bank.

It is believed Miss Justice Elizabeth Dunne may be shown a video-recording which the bank claims showed Peter Quinn and Sean Quinn Jnr discussing movement of money at a meeting in Ukraine. The bank claims the video will show that Peter Quinn was "prepared to lie" to the High Court.

Richard Woodhouse, of the bank, now Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, has said in an affidavit the video showed an exchange regarding large sums of money and also showed Peter Quinn stating he was in breach of a court injunction and, when asked would he lie in his testimony, laughing and responding: "I'd have to lie...that wouldn't overly worry me".

The bank told Mr Justice Peter Kelly earlier this month it was very concerned about the recording, published in the Irish Mail on Sunday last month, of the January 2012 meeting in Kiev, Ukraine.

That recording, the contempt findings against the three and other matters showed the Quinn family cannot be trusted to honestly comply with court orders restraining the stripping of multi-million assets from their International Property Group (IPG) , it alleged.

Ms Justice Dunne last month found the three guilty of contempt of court orders made in June and July 2011 restraining such stripping of assets and stressed she would "not sit idly by" and allow the court's orders be breached via an "impermissible" asset-stripping conspiracy.

On June 29th last, the judge made a number of coercive orders aimed at reversing the asset-stripping measures and indicated she would consider punitive measures if they failed to comply with those orders by today, July 20th.

She expressed disappointment there was no acknowledgement by the three, "even at this stage", of the "great wrongdoing" involved. She was satisfied all three were involved in a conspiracy to deprive Anglo of access to assets in circumstances where they admitted the bank was owed €455 million while disputing its claim for a further €2.3 billion. 

In opposing the extent of the coercive orders, Bill Shipsey SC, for the three, argued committal to prison was "a last resort".

He indicated there would be difficulties unwinding some transactions as they involved individuals and companies in Russia and Ukraine and said the Quinns were considering an appeal against the contempt findings.

Paul Gallagher SC, for the bank, said its primary aim was to protect the assets via the coercive orders but the court also had discretion, given the "flagrant" contempt and response of the three, to impose whatever sanction it deemed appropriate.

The contempt was "so blatant, deliberate and extensive" in scale the court might feel some punitive element was also required, he said. 

The three had offered no apology or any clear proposals to reverse the asset-stripping measures or to resign from IPG companies, he added.

The bank remained very concerned about the IPG assets and still had been given no information about what was happening to some $35 million (€28.5 million) rental income from properties in the IPG, he added.

The judge ruled the bank was entitled to a range of coercive orders, including requiring the three to disclose assets held directly or indirectly in Ireland and worldwide and appointing a receiver over those assets, apart from family homes and jointly held accounts.

The three were also ordered to disclose all documents relating to work carried out for them by an international law firm, Senat Legal Consultancy, including documents related to all off-shore or other companies purchased or controlled by Senat in connection with IPG companies.

They must also disclose rental payments related to IPG companies and all directors and other agents of the companies.

They must also resign from IPG companies and withdraw legal actions aimed at removing assets of those companies.

The judge made the rulings following her findings the three acted in contempt of orders made in June and July 2011 restraining dissipation of assets in the IPG valued at up to €500 million.

The contempt application arose in proceedings by the bank against the three, other Quinn family members and some companies aimed at protecting IPG assets.

That case was initiated a year ago and is being fast-tracked in the Commercial Court amid concerns by the bank assets remain at risk.