A legal battle launched by ex-tycoon Sean Quinn’s family against the former Anglo Irish Bank over €2.34bn loans has been delayed again – pushing it back to next year.
Despite all sides turning up and ready to start the civil case as expected today, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) made a last-minute application for an adjournment.
Paul Anthony McDermott SC, barrister for the DPP, said there were fears that allegations and evidence expected in the case could “contaminate” Anglo Irish Bank ex-chief executive Sean FitzPatrick’s criminal trial.
That case was delayed yesterday until October 5.
The Quinn family case, to avoid liability for €2.34bn in loans by Anglo to various Quinn companies, is expected to the biggest legal showdown in Irish corporate history.
Judge Robert Haughton said he was very reluctantly and regrettably granting the DPP’s request, and adjourned the case until January 12.
It is the third time the high-profile proceedings have been hit by delays.
Mr Quinn’s wife Patricia and their adult children – Ciara, Collette, Brenda, Aoife and Sean Junior – first lodged papers in the case in May 2011.
Aoife and Ciara Quinn.
It was previously put back in February to allow for the criminal case against Mr FitzPatrick to finish, but that prosecution has been dogged by delays amid legal argument.
Mr McDermott said there was currently a “mosaic” of criminal trials, civil cases and the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry which were ongoing.
When one piece of the mosaic shifts, it can have a knock on effect on everything else, he told a packed court six in the Four Courts.
The barrister said there were matters of significant public interest and public controversy at the heart of the Quinns’ case that overlapped with issues in Mr FitzPatrick’s trial.
The DPP wanted to avoid a “direct clash” so as to minimise any dangers to the criminal trial, he added.
Martin Hayden SC, barrister for the Quinns, said they were neutral about the application, but wanted their “case on” as they had been vilified at every twist and turn in relation to their alleged conduct.
They did not want the case to go ahead with reporting restrictions but wanted to see it played out in a public format, he said.
However, Mr Hayden added neither did they want to see their case give any grounds for the State not to prosecute former directors and executives of Anglo Irish Bank.
Paul Gallagher SC, barrister for the State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation – formerly Anglo Irish Bank, said his clients were very anxious to proceed with the trial but said they would not be prejudiced by an adjournment.
However, he warned any further delays would be seen as a “serious matter”.
Last month, Judge Haughton ruled the Quinn family could proceed with their claims that €2.34bn in loans by Anglo to various Quinn companies were made for the unlawful purpose of propping up the bank’s share price.