Quinns ordered to reverse moves


Bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn, his son Sean and nephew Peter Darragh Quinn have been ordered to take specified steps aimed at unwinding measures taken to put multi-million euro assets in the Quinn international property group beyond the reach of the former Anglo Irish Bank.

Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne also today made clear to the three they could face punitive sanctions if they do not obey the orders, which include orders requiring them to disclose all their assets.

The three were involved in a conspiracy or plan to put assets beyond the bank's reach and that was impermissible, she said.

She would "not sit idly by and allow that take place and allow court orders be breached".

The judge said she would not disagree with a description of the contempt of court orders in this case as "flagrant" and she was disappointed there was no acknowledgement by the three, even at this stage, of the "great wrongdoing" involved.

Earlier, lawyers for the bank had said that while it was primarily seeking a large number of coercive orders against the three aimed at unwinding asset stripping measures, the court should also consider punitive orders given the "flagrant" contempt and the response of the three to the court's finding.

Paul Gallagher SC, for the bank, said the three had offered no apology to the court, were not offering to resign from companies and were offering no clear proposals to reverse asset-stripping measures.

There had been a "gross affront" to the court established in evidence but the three were effectively asking the court to ignore that, he said.

The bank had still no information about what was happening to some $35 million rental income from properties in the IPG, he added.

Bill Shipsey SC, for the three men, said the orders being sought by the bank were draconian and extraordinary, well beyond the court's findings of contempt and it had no jurisdiction to make them. He said committal to prison was a last resort and the only orders made should be ones that have the three an opportunity to purge their contempt in relation to the specific findings against them.

His clients would have difficulties unwinding certain transactions as other companies and individuals outside this jurisdiction were involved.

He said his clients accepted appropriate coercive orders could be made to reverse the transactions involved in the contempt findings but the nature of those orders was for the court to decide. The bank was not entitled to the wide ranging orders sought, he said.

Counsel also indicated the Quinns were considering an appeal against the contempt findings.

The judge made orders directing the three to disclose all their assets in Ireland and worldwide, whether held directly or indirectly. They must also disclose the work done by lawyers and any other agents of theirs in relation to the worldwide assets.

The judge also granted the bank's application to appoint a receiver over assets of the three and a range of orders to assist the bank in identifying, protecting and controlling the IPG assets and ensuring the bank secures the rental and any other income from them.

All three men sat impassively in the packed courtroom as the judge gave her ruling. Supporters of the Quinns and some of their relatives were also in court.

The judge made the rulings following her findings earlier this week the three engaged in a "complex, complicated and no doubt costly" series of steps designed to put assets beyond the reach of the bank in "a blatant, dishonest and deceitful manner".

All three told untruths to the court and their behaviour was "as far removed from the concept of honour and respectability as it is possible to be", she said.

The issue of what penalty to impose was adjourned to allow the sides consider her ruling and make submissions.

In her judgment this week, Ms Justice Dunne found the three had sought to deprive Anglo of assets which would go some way towards discharging their "admitted indebtedness".

The Quinns accepted they owe the bank some €455 million but denied owing it an additional €2.3 billion, she said.

The judge ruled there was contempt by all three of orders made in June and July 2011 by Mr Justice Frank Clarke restraining dissipation of assets in the IPG valued at up to €500 million.

She found contempt against Seán Quinn Snr and Peter Quinn via their involvement in assignment of about $130 million worth of loans to Galfis Overseas Ltd, a Belize entity, for nominal consideration on or after July 20th, 2011 and in back-dating those loans to April 2011.

She also found contempt against the two via their involvement in an assignment in July 2011 of a €45.2 million debt to a Northern Ireland company, Innishmore, controlled by Peter Darragh Quinn, with a view to taking control of a Ukranian property asset - the Univermag shopping centre - worth about $78 million. A Northern Ireland court recently declared that assignment was invalid.

All three were found guilty of contempt arising from their involvement in late August 2011 in a process leading to a $500,000 payment being made out of the accounts of Quinn Properties Ukraine to its general director,  Janis Puga, just as IBRC was taking over QPU. That money remains frozen.

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

That case was initiated a year ago and is now to be fast-tracked in the Commercial Court amid concerns expressed by the bank that assets in the IPG remain at risk. This week, Mr Justice Peter Kelly continued orders freezing the accounts held or controlled by the five adult children of Mr Quinn, Peter Darragh Quinn and two sons in law of Mr Quinn, Stephen Kelly and Niall McPartland, below €50 million, apart from living expenses of €8,000 until July 24th next.

In separate proceedings,  Patricia Quinn and her children, who have owned the Quinn companies since 2002, claim they are not liable for loans of some €2.8 billion made by Anglo to Quinn companies because those loans were unlawfully made to prop up the bank's share price.