Lenihan being kept briefed on Quinn talks

 

The Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan is being kept briefed on
the meetings which are taking place between Quinn and Anglo although Mr Lenihan’s Department had no direct involvement in the talks.

Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith, a Fianna Fail TD for Cavan-Monaghan, said very intense discussions were ongoing “among interested parties” to find a commercial solution that best protected employment and ensured regulatory requirements were met.

Mr Smith said very substantial money was owed to Anglo by Quinn. “Naturally Anglo will want to recover that debt, and they will make a commercial decision based on the best plans of recovering that debt,
 he said.

The Minister told RTE Radio One’s This Week programme while Anglo operated at “arms-length” from the Department of Finance, if there was to be any discussion of restructuring of debt “that would come back to the Minister or to Government for decision”.

Asked if the issue had been discussed at Cabinet, Mr Smith said: “No…there is no proposal before, from Anglo, in relation to this particular issue that everybody is anxious to get a decision”. The Minister said he was not privy to the specifics of the discussions and there had been “speculation” in the media.

“What has been speculated upon is that Anglo, naturally, want to recover their debt, and if an investment by Anglo on a commercial basis strengthened their ability to recover their debt then options like that would obviously be considered by Anglo management.”

He said Sean Quinn had never denied making a wrong decision in regard to an investment, but he had also made very important and innovative decisions over the years that grew his company to one that employs 5,500 people. Mr Smith said he had not spoken to Mr Quinn recently, but had met with his many of his employees. “who would be neighbours and friends of mine”.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael’s deputy finance spokesman Kieran O’Donnell called on the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan to attend the Oireachtas finance committee on Tuesday. “We haven’t heard anything from him in terms of how he views the question of Anglo being involved in the Quinn group,” Mr O’Donnell said.

“Anglo is a potentially insolvent bank. Anglo appears to have no expertise in the insurance area…we are concerned not only about sustainable jobs for the people working in the Quinn group and Quinn insurance but also about protecting the interests of the taxpayers and the policy holders in the Quinn group itself.”