Sean Quinn junior and his cousin Peter Darragh Quinn were given three month jail sentences in Dublin’s high court after they were found guilty of putting assets beyond the reach of creditors in Anglo Irish Bank
In another twist in the remarkable tale of a bankrupt Irish billionaire and his crumbling business empire, Ireland’s one time richest man Sean Quinn has escaped jail but his nephew and son were handed prison sentences after all three were found guilty of contempt in the Republic’s high court.
The court found that they were hiding around €500m (£389m) from the now-nationalised Anglo Irish bank, an institution that is owed €2bn by the Quinns. Sean Quinn junior and his cousin Peter Darragh Quinn were given three month jail sentences in Dublin’s high court after they were found guilty of putting assets beyond the reach of their creditors in the former Anglo Irish Bank. Quinn’s son was jailed but his cousin remains at large, having failed to attend the hearing.
The pair’s journey from a life of luxury to a prison cell epitomises the hubristic collapse of the Celtic Tiger economy, epitomised by over-investment and gambling in the property market. They will be freed if they can purge the contempt of court by handing over the assets to the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) – the successor to the now defunct, disgraced Anglo. The men’s counsel in court described the judge’s decision to jail Quinn’s son, while leaving the father at liberty to release the €500m, as “almost medieval”.
Sean Quinn senior was not jailed but he was ordered to co-operate with the state-owned IBRC bank to purge the contempt of court. In her ruling, Miss Justice Elizabeth Dunne said she was not happy with the Quinns’ level of cooperation with court orders.
The judge said the evidence presented to her convinced her all the more that there was a lack of openness by the Quinns. She said video footage showing Sean Quinn’s son and nephew at a meeting in Ukraine in January, discussing how a significant payment could be made to them, did not assist the case. The judge rejected suggestions by the Quinns’ lawyers that the duo were being intimidated at the meeting in Kiev.
Brian O’Moore, senior counsel for Quinn Snr, said to was wrong to lock up one member of the family in the hope another would act. “This almost medieval approach of holding the son to see what the chieftain father will do in terms of freeing the son’s liberty is wholly inadequate,” he said.
Judge Dunne rejected his allegation and said that far from being medieval it was a practical way of trying to encourage compliance with orders. The high court earlier issued a warrant for the arrest of Peter Daragh Quinn, the nephew of Sean Quinn, after he failed to appear for the hearing. The court made the order after hearing that all efforts to contact him
on Friday morning had failed. One message had been received that he was sick, but the judge said no evidence of illness had been brought to court.
The IBRC is owed €2bn by Sean Quinn and sought to recover some of that from properties owned by Quinn in Russia and Ukraine. However, the IBRC found itself locked out of the company that controlled the Quinn property. It also discovered that the money and ownership was disappearing into a complex web of companies scattered across the world.
As well as being once Ireland’s richest man he was in 2007 also the 12th wealthiest entrepreneur in the UK given that his family home was in Northern Ireland. Sean Quinn’s fortune and success was built on the twin pillars of a cement business and later his insurance industry. Up to 6,000 people are still employed in companies Quinn and his family established.
His downfall started when like many other Irish tycoons Quinn started to play the global property market buying up luxury complexes in Russian, the Ukraine and the Gulf.
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