Quinn nephew: I’m not asset mastermind

A nephew of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn denies being the “mastermind” of a strategy to put multimillion-euro assets of the Quinn family beyond the reach of Anglo Irish Bank, but agreed steps taken were “wrong and unethical”, although he did not believe they breached Russian law.

Peter Darragh Quinn also told the High Court he had “no clue” about an allegedly false and contrived arbitration award of $100m made in June 2011 against a Russian company, of which he was general director, in favour of an off-shore shelf company, Belize-registered Galfis Overseas Ltd, alleged by Anglo, now Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, to be controlled by Quinn parties.

Anglo alleges the award, made weeks before the bank secured court orders restraining dissipation of assets valued up to €500m in the Quinn international property group (IPG), was part of a strategy to strip assets worth over $145m from Russian company Finansstroy.

Mr Quinn, general manager of international property assets held by the Quinn Group from 2009, agreed it was “extraordinary” that the $100m claim by Galfis was not disputed by Finansstroy and that it said it did not want to attend the arbitration procedure. He was unaware of the claim until he saw documents in this case, he said. It was remiss of him not to be aware and was “an oversight”, he said.

Mr Quinn also denied suggestions Galfis was being set up for him at his request during his one-day trip to Dubai on June 20, 2011, as part of the alleged asset-stripping strategy and not, as he contends, at the request of Russian lawyers for the benefit of a former Ukrainian railway worker, Yaroslav Gurnyak.

He made the trip in the space of a day to Dubai to explore putting any new ventures involving the Quinn family into a trust structure, he said. He agreed he could have asked Irish solicitors about that but said he preferred to have initial meetings in person.

The cross-examination of Mr Quinn continued yesterday before Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne in the hearing of the bank’s application for orders for attachment and committal against him, Sean Quinn Snr, and Sean Quinn Jnr for alleged contempt.

The bank contends the three breached court orders of June and July 2011 restraining dissipation of assets in the IPG. They deny those claims and say steps to place assets beyond Anglo’s reach were carried out prior to the orders.

Among the claims against Peter Darragh Quinn is that he breached the orders via his alleged participation in the assignment of loans totalling some €163m for nominal consideration to Galfis on or after July 20, 2011. It is also alleged he and Sean Quinn Snr backdated assignments so it would appear they occurred on Apr 4 2011.

Yesterday, Pater Quinn said that, arising from his concern to protect assets of the Quinn family, he obtained advice from a major law firm, CMS Russia, but used other lawyers to effect transfers of shareholdings in Quinn companies.

He denied he did this because some of the actions engaged in were illegal but agreed he believed CMS would have been “reluctant” to get involved and would “not have approved”.

He accepted he had not told CMS of the exposure of various Quinn companies to Anglo and it was not aware of any plan to remove assets from Anglo.

He agreed the firm was providing advice in the belief the aim was to achieve internal restructuring of companies within the Quinn IPG.

The hearing continues today.

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