Seven Days

 

A glance at the week that was

The numbers

35m- Number of BlackBerry users outside North America affected by service disruptions, including to messaging and browsing.

€8bn- The amount Greece is set to get in a second bailout from the ECB and the IMF, despite failing to make stipulated cutbacks.

16 -Percentage of young people who say they have met in person with people they have met online, according to a report by the Minister for Children.

2- Goals the Republic of Ireland scored on Tuesday night to beat Armenia and make the Euro 2012 play-offs, where they will face Estonia.

100 -Number of prop guns impounded on the set of Brad Pitt’s film World War Zby Hungary’s TEK anti-terrorism force. Officials said they could have been adapted to work with live ammunition too easily.

€310k -The price of the most expensive oriental artefact ever sold at auction in Ireland. The Ming dynasty plate was sold by a family in Co Derry.

We now know

* Ryanair can legally charge passengers €40 if they don’t bring their boarding pass to the airport.

* Driving records will be carried electronically on every driver’s licence as of next year.

* Ségolène Royal will support her ex-husband François Hollande for the French Socialist Party’s presidential nomination, even though he left her for another woman in 2007.


‘Drive’ neither fast nor furious enough for litigant’s liking

A Michigan woman is suing the distributors of Driveand the cinema where she saw the film because it did not focus on car chases as much as the trailer suggested. Sarah Deming is suing because, she says, the trailer for the film misled her, and her cinemagoing experience was not what she expected. “Drive bore very little similarity to a chase, or race action film, for reasons including but not limited to Drive having very little driving in the motion picture,” the lawsuit states. It also claims that the film contains degrading racism towards Jews.

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Give me a crash course in . . .  the Quinns v Anglo Irish Bank

What are the Quinn family and Anglo Irish Bank fighting about?€2.88 billion.

Wow. How come?The bank lent the money to the Quinn Group, which is owned by the Quinn family, but the family now says they don’t have to repay it.

Why?Because, they say, the loans are tainted by illegality – a reference to the bank’s efforts a few years ago to prop up its share price by lending money to people to buy Anglo shares.

What has that got to do with the Quinns? Seán Quinn had secretly built up a huge stake in the bank using a mechanism called contracts for difference. The stake was a destabilising factor for the bank, which set about trying to unravel it once it learned of its existence. At the time, Quinn was the bank’s largest customer. The courts will have to decide if there is any merit in the Quinn argument.

So what happened in Cyprus this week?The battle between the Quinns and the bank is taking place in courtrooms in Dublin, Stockholm, Nicosia and Moscow. This is, in part, because the bank says its collateral against the loans was shares in Quinn Group companies, some of which own property in Russia. The Quinn companies involved have a Sweden-Cyprus-Russia ownership structure. The bank hopes it can get about €500 million back but believes most of the value of the Quinn Group is in its foreign properties. The Cyprus case was taken by the Quinns, who are trying to stop the bank getting its hands on the Russian properties. A judgment is expected in the next few weeks.

What is Anglo’s position?In an affadavit opened in Cyprus this week, the bank said the Quinn family is involved in an improper attempt to put the properties beyond its reach. As the bank is State-owned, this means beyond the State’s reach. The family have said the properties are in fact held in trust for Seán Quinn’s children, Ciara, Colette, Brenda, Aoife and Seán jnr.

Did someone really buy a valuable property in return for a laptop?Yes, according to the sequence of events set out in the Anglo affidavit. The short version goes like this: a Quinn family company that borrowed from Anglo was the owner of a DIY shop in Russia worth more than $13.5 million (€9.7 million). The property now belongs to Stephen Kelly, the husband of Seán Quinn’s daughter, Aoife. The consideration paid, according to the affidavit, was a laptop.

That seems weird.The shop was owned by a Russian company, Red Sector, which was in turn owned by a Cypriot company, which was in turn owned by a Swedish company, which was in turn owned by a Swedish holding company called Quinn Investments Sweden AB. Shares in these companies were pledged to Anglo by Seán Quinn and other Quinn Investments directors.

Between May and July this year, the affadavit says, Kelly was issued with a tiny percentage of the Red Sector shares. He was also made a general director of the company. Between July and August the Cypriot company’s shares in Red Sector were “withdrawn”. This made Kelly’s formerly tiny percentage shareholding into the entire issued shareholding in Red Sector. This made him the 100 per cent owner of the Russian company.

The resolution to withdraw the Cypriot shareholding was signed by Aoife Quinn on June 23rd this year, according to the Anglo affidavit. The price Kelly was charged for what was at the time a tiny shareholding in Red Sector was 15,000 roubles, or approximately €380, and was recorded at the time as having been paid by way of a contribution in kind, being a laptop of that value. COLM KEENA

Next week you need to know about . . . 'We Need to Talk About Kevin'

Tilda Swinton stars as Eva, a guilt-racked mother dealing with the aftermath of her sociopathic son’s Columbine-style high-school killing spree. Lynne Ramsey directed the long-awaited adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s award-winning 2003 novel, which premiered at the Cannes film festival to critical acclaim.

Through a series of flashbacks, Eva tries to deal with her grief and her feeling that she is somehow responsible for her son’s horrific acts by writing to her estranged and passive husband, played by John C Reilly. Newcomer Ezra Miller stars as the disturbed teenager.

The film has all the elements of a horror movie mixed with the gut-wrenching knowledge that such a thing could really happen. Miller plays the son as a monster, while the visuals create an aura of menace around every corner.

The Irish TimesWe Need to Talk About Kevin