Quinn concedes ‘vendetta’ bankruptcy

BUSINESSMAN Sean Quinn has been declared bankrupt in the High Court after he decided not to contest an application made by the former Anglo Irish Bank.

Formerly the country’s richest man, Mr Quinn afterwards said the bank, now known as Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, had pursued “a vendetta” against him and his family and through their actions had “achieved their goal of ensuring that I will never create another job”.

IBRC had brought the matter before Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne in the High Court less than a week after it overturned a bankruptcy order Mr Quinn had obtained in the North last November.

Mr Quinn, formerly a billionaire with interests dotted around the world, was poised to contest yesterday’s High Court application by IBRC, but when the matter was called in court a counsel for the bank asked that it go to second calling due to “developments unlikely to trouble the court”.

When the matter was next called, Mr Quinn’s solicitor, Gavin Simons of Daniel Murphy Solicitors, said his client would not oppose the application.

SC for the bank, Paul Gallagher, said the judgment made in Belfast last week established that Mr Quinn’s main centre of interests was in Ireland.

Ms Justice Dunne said she would adjudicate on the matter and asked that Mr Quinn make himself available for receipt of bankruptcy documents from the court appointed signee, Chris Lehane.

Mr Quinn will also have to present Mr Lehane with papers including a statement of means.

Mr Quinn was not in court for the hearing. He will now be barred from acting as a company director for up to 12 years.

The petition was brought to court by IBRC over debts of around €2 billion.

The bank is also trying to gain control of Mr Quinn’s property portfolio, understood to involve holdings in countries including Russia, India, Cyprus and Belize, worth an estimated €500 million. Proceedings are already underway in numerous countries over these assets.

Following last week’s ruling in Belfast Mr Quinn made statements outside the court, but yesterday waited until after the High Court decision before issuing a statement.

“Today Anglo achieved their goal of ensuring that I will never create another job,” he said. “As I have previously stated, Anglo has been pursuing a vendetta against me and my family.

“Given the expense incurred by Anglo in having my Northern Ireland bankruptcy overturned and the fact that today’s judgement in no way improves Anglo’s prospects of recovering money for the taxpayer, their actions clearly prove that it is a personal vendetta. The position of the Irish taxpayer could have improved significantly, by a more reasonable approach to the issues involved.”

Quinn future

* What happens now?

Adjudicating on the matter yesterday Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne asked that Mr Quinn make himself available to meet with the court appointed signee, Chris Lehane, so he can have papers served on him.

Papers will have to be furnished by Mr Quinn, including a statement of affairs, effectively the assets held legally or for the benefit of Mr Quinn. He will also have to list over the next 21 days any assets transferred in recent years.

* What happens to Mr Quinn’s business interests?

Business as usual. Some parts of the Quinn companies have already been sold and are under new management, while the health insurance arm is in the process of being sold. Instead the bank is likely to be on collision course with other members of the Quinn families over assets such as property, ownership of which were transferred to them in recent years.

* What do IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, ultimately want from Mr Quinn?

Some kind of return. Mr Quinn had tried to prove that his centre of interests was in the North. This would have opened the way to a more swift return to frontline business. That has not happened and Anglo/IBRC is bringing applications in a number of countries against members of the Quinn family over properties owned by them, in a bid to get some return.

* Are they likely to succeed?

Not necessarily. The Quinn argument is that properties were transferred to other members of the family many years ago and with the knowledge of the bank, so they do not need to be listed in the statement of means.

* What is the difference between being a bankrupt here and declared insolvent in the North, as Mr Quinn was until that ruling was annulled last week?

About 11 years. Under the more stringent bankruptcy laws here Mr Quinn will not be able to act as a company director for up to 12 years, whereas had the ruling in the North, originally made last November, stuck he would have been able to resume life as a businessman and director as early as next year. Given that he is in his mid-60s it would seem a return to high finance for Mr Quinn is unlikely.

Belfry for sale

THE prestigious Belfry golf and hotel resort, which formed part of the Quinn empire, is for sale, it has been confirmed.

Considered the spiritual home of the Ryder Cup after hosting the competition four times since 1985, the complex is believed to be valued at £90 million (€108m).

Nigel Gray, managing director of The Belfry, said: “New owners are being sought for The Belfry and we are extremely confident this will prove to be successful.”

About 11 miles from Birmingham, it includes a 324-bedroom hotel, three golf courses and numerous European Tour events, extensive meeting facilities, a spa and health and wellness leisure club, on-site nightclub and is the headquarters of the PGA.

The Belfry was bought by the Quinn group in 2005 for £186m. It was owned by Sean Quinn Jr, son of former billionaire tycoon Sean Quinn.

George Nicholas, of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, said: “The Belfry is an iconic golf destination; combining an internationally recognised brand with a successfully trading business, and quality sales of this nature rarely come to the market. We expect significant international interest to be attracted among buyers from across the globe as investors bid to secure this rare opportunity.

— Ed Carty

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