Pressure on the Co Fermanagh businessman and family to comply with court orders directing them to unravel schemes designed to put a €500m international property portfolio beyond the reach of Anglo Irish Bank has intensified with the jailing of his son.
Seán Quinn Jr spent last night in Mountjoy Prison at the start of a three-month sentence, while his cousin, Peter Darragh Quinn, is the subject of a Garda manhunt following his failure to appear before the High Court yesterday.
Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne ordered the arrest of Seán Quinn’s nephew after the court was informed that he was ill, despite the fact that he had appeared well when swearing an affidavit to his lawyer at 3am yesterday. Efforts by his own solicitor to contact him by phone, text, and email yesterday proved unsuccessful.
However, Peter Darragh Quinn will evade imprisonment if he is staying at his usual residence in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, as gardaí have no powers to seek his return from another jurisdiction.
The whereabouts of the 34-year-old former Fermanagh intercounty GAA player, and son of former GAA president Peter Quinn Sr, remained unknown last night.
In her ruling, Ms Justice Dunne described the contempt of the three Quinns to date as “outrageous” and “most serious”.
The judge said that she was not impressed with the Quinns’ claims they had done all within their power to assist State-owned Anglo bank and found it difficult to accept the argument they were helpless.
Ms Justice Dunne also rejected claims by the Quinns’ barrister, Brian O’Moore SC, that Anglo’s demand that the two younger Quinns be put in jail was “medieval”. Anglo’s lawyers stated their belief that the Quinns would rather spend time in jail than lose control of assets worth €500m.
Ms Justice Dunne claimed the decision to jail the pair was a last resort but was designed to encourage the Quinns to comply with orders she had issued on Jun 26.
The judge said she would make no further order against Seán Quinn Sr at this stage to allow him take steps to assist Anglo over the next three months. However, she hinted that the 65-year-old businessman — who was once Ireland’s richest man with an estimated wealth of almost €5bn — as well as his two relatives, could face further jail sentences if they remain in contempt after the end of the three-month period.
Ms Justice Dunne also said Seán Quinn Jr and his cousin could apply to the court at any time to be released from jail if they believed they had purged their contempt.
However, she refused an application by the Quinns’ legal team to put a stay on the order to imprison them pending a possible appeal to the Supreme Court.
The High Court heard that the Quinns acknowledged that they owe €455m to the bank but the parties remain in dispute about another €2.5bn.
The court was shown a secret video recording of the two cousins at a meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, last January in which Peter Darragh Quinn declared he had no difficulty in giving false evidence to an Irish court.
It also emerged that eight members of the Quinn family had received previously unknown payments totalling almost €2.8m since Apr 2011.
Meanwhile, prison sources said Seán Quinn Jr would have been given “no preferential treatment” in Mountjoy last night and that he would have been assigned to a cell like any other committal.
Given Mountjoy is consistently overcrowded, it is likely he was brought to a multi-occupancy cell, sharing with at least one other person. It is expected he will be transferred to another prison this morning — most likely either the Midlands Prison, in Portlaoise, or Wheatfield Prison in Clondalkin. Quinn Jr will probably be placed on the protection landing in the Midlands Prison, which is for inmates who have sought protection from other prisoners for their own safety.
There is free association between inmates on this landing, meaning Quinn Jr would not be locked up in his cell for most of the day, unlike a protection cell on a normal landing.
* Kutuzoff Tower in Moscow, Russia, worth €114m.
* Office block in Hyderabad, India, worth €64m.
* Ukrania Shopping Centre in Kiev, Ukraine, worth €62m.
* Eight members of the Quinn family received payments of almost €2.8m since Apr 2011.
* €1m to a Russian law firm in 2011.
* Peter Darragh Quinn received €450,000 as director of a Russian company in 2011.