Former billionaire Seán Quinn claims he has faced “an alarmingly high degree of hostility” from individuals who took over the management of divisions of his one-time business empire.
Nearly two years ago, a group of Irish investors backed by three US hedge funds bought Quinn group operations in Cavan and Fermanagh, saying that they believed they had Mr Quinn’s “moral backing” for the deal.
The new owners then appointed Liam McCaffrey, former Quinn group deputy, along with Dara O'Reilly and Kevin Lunne to run the new entity, Quinn Industrial Holdings Ltd.
In a February 12th, five-page letter to the main Irish shareholders of the firm – Ernie Fisher, John McCartin and John Bosco O'Hagan – Mr Quinn claimed that he has been treated in "a deplorable manner".
His relationship with the executives in the company, particularly Mr McCaffrey and the two other most senior members of the team, has “deteriorated beyond reconciliation”, he said.
Claiming that he has been “belittled”, Mr Quinn, who was recruited as a €500,000-a-year consultant to the firm, alleged that he has to seek permission in writing to buy lunch for customers.
Reflecting on the loss of his multibillion euro empire five years ago, Mr Quinn, who was made bankrupt but whose bankruptcy has since been discharged, said the repercussions that followed “were not of my making”.
The letter from Mr Quinn was sent a month before an email was sent by the three US investors who own most of the firm – Brigade Capital, Contrarian Capital and Silver Point Capital – which strongly complained about Mr Quinn's conduct.
Mr Quinn has, according to one of his own advisers, grown “increasingly uncomfortable” as an adviser to the firm. He has, they said, “a strong desire to acquire ownership in Quinn Industrial Holdings Ltd”. However, the Americans made clear that they have no intention of acceding to his demands.
In the letter, obtained by the Fermanagh newspaper the Impartial Reporter, Mr Quinn claimed that Mr McCartin, Mr Fisher and Mr O'Hagan agreed to buy the Cavan and Fermanagh operations and put them back under his control.
Mr Quinn claims in the letter that he had proposed to them that they “buy our businesses with a view to transferring ownership to the family in time”.
However, he claimed that he and his family were then excluded from meetings.
Writing that he was “under the impression that throughout the process he would “have the final say on all matters”, Mr Quinn added: “I was given the necessary assurances that this would be the case, but in the weeks immediately following that meeting, my advice was entirely ignored.”
Acknowledging that his conduct at some meetings has been “poor”, Mr Quinn said: “The matter is obviously hugely emotional for me and I resorted to a level of criticism that was inappropriate.”
He had built a multinational business from “the family farm in Derrylin” over 40 years, he said, one that had “secured immense employment and development for this region”.
However, he put distance between himself and the issues that brought the Quinn group down. He said that, while he had always been “intrinsically involved” in the business, some matters “were handled by the relevant experts we recruited or appointed externally”.
Recalling his ill-fated investment in the former Anglo Irish Bank, Mr Quinn said he now fully accepted that he had left the Quinn group open to "too big an exposure".
Since the Quinn group went into receivership, Mr Quinn said he has “received nothing only financial ruin and ridicule” from people following “an anti-Quinn” agenda.
“The investment in Anglo was “my error of judgement”, but “the repercussions which ensued thereafter for my family and the Group were not of my making,” he said.
He has, he said, faced “the most grotesque state orchestrated campaign against an Irish family” involving the State and the press, though he said he is “no more mentally afflicted now than I have been for the last 40 years”.