Quinn applies for bankruptcy

Sean Quinn has applied for bankruptcy in the High Court in Belfast this morning.

Sean Quinn has applied for bankruptcy in the High Court in Belfast this morning.

The Fermanagh-born businessman and founder of the Quinn Group has issued a statement in the past hour, saying he has done everything in his power to avoid taking what the calls the "drastic decision".

However he said he has been left with no alternative.

Mr Quinn and his family are estimated to owe €2.8bn to Anglo Irish Bank.

Anglo last week lodged High Court documents signalling its intention to call in almost €2bn in personal guarantees given by the former head of Quinn Group.

Once Ireland's richest man, Mr Quinn's multibillion empire collapsed over the last two years on the back of massive and secret stock market gambles on the share price of the now nationalised rogue lender.

Mr Quinn, whose success was a true rags-to-riches story having been built on a £100 loan, said he had done everything he could to avoid the drastic step.

``I was born, reared and worked all my life in Co Fermanagh. It is for this reason that my bankruptcy application was made today in Northern Ireland,'' Mr Quinn said.

“I have done absolutely everything in my power to avoid taking this drastic decision.

“The vast majority of debt that Anglo maintains is owed is strenuously disputed.

“However, I cannot now pay those loans which are due, following Anglo taking control of the Quinn Group of companies, which I and a loyal team spent a lifetime building. I find myself left with no other alternative.”

Mr Quinn was reputedly worth €4.72bn at the height of his business success.

In a lengthy statement Mr Quinn accepted some of the blame for his downfall.

But he accused Anglo – under investigation by the fraud squad and a corporate watchdog in Ireland – of self-interest, lack of responsibility and bad lending.

“I am not in the business of pointing fingers or making excuses,” he said.

“However, recent history has shown that I, like thousands of others in Ireland, incorrectly relied upon the persons who guided Anglo and who wrongfully sought to portray a ’blue chip’ Irish banking sector.”

In a defiant defence of his businesses and investments, Mr Quinn launched a fierce attack on Anglo, rebranded as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation and to be wound down, and its current bosses.

He claimed to have created 5,000 jobs in Ireland at one stage and paid €1bn in tax.

Mr Quinn insisted that he did not bring his empire down through the complex share trades which went belly up.

He also rejected claims that his business group, started in 1973, did not collapse.

Mr Quinn has always maintained that he would have been able to service multibillion debts if he was allowed to retain control of all divisions.

He was forced to relinquish control of the money-making Quinn Insurance wing in early 2010 after the Financial Regulator in Ireland warned its cash reserves had fallen below required industry standards.

“Anglo is now tirelessly working with its PR advisers to tell a different story of how I supposedly brought down the Quinn Group. This is wrong,” he said.

“Anglo’s actions, in taking control of businesses, have led to the present situation.

“The Quinn Group, prior to Anglo’s takeover, was a very profitable business, which was paying all the interest on 100% of its debts, as well as having sufficient surpluses to develop further.”

Mr Quinn's bankruptcy declaration in Belfast means he could be free of his debts in a year.

If he had been forced into the same move in the Republic he would be out of business for 12 years.

Mr Quinn accused the Anglo board and management, headed by former government minister Alan Dukes, of lacking the foresight to work with him, his family and those formerly at the head of the group.

“Instead, Anglo has supported and promoted an ill-conceived and highly damaging receivership programme, which I believe, if it continues on its current road, is destined for certain and catastrophic failure,” he said.

“This will have wide-reaching effects on the local community in which I grew up and where I still live.”

Mr Quinn also claimed that he has been subjected to relentless media coverage for the last three years and called for objectivity.

The 64-year-old was finally stripped of all control of his business empire in April this year.

The IBRC issued a statement warning that Mr Quinn and his family owe the State €2.8bn and rejected Mr Quinn’s claim that he is resident in the North..

The bank claimed the family live in Co Cavan, along the border.

“The bank is examining the validity of this application for bankruptcy in light of Mr Quinn’s residency and extensive business interests and liabilities within the state,” the IBRC said.

The mandate of the IBRC is to recover as much of the debts as possible on behalf of the Irish taxpayer and IBRC will continue to pursue maximum recovery of his debt.“

Mr Quinn’s three-year long downfall started after he invested in Anglo using complex stock market deals known as contracts for difference, which allow the buyer to remain hidden but run huge risks if the share price shifts dramatically.

Mr Quinn gambled in the final years of the Celtic Tiger property and development boom on the share price continuing to rise.

It has been estimated that, at the top of the market, Mr Quinn could have been secretly in control of 15% of Anglo.

Trouble hit in late 2008 when the Anglo share price nosedived and Mr Quinn was forced to resign from the flagship insurance business, which was fined €3m over financial errors.

Mr Quinn was forced out after using funds from Quinn Insurance as loans for other divisions.

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