Quinn family and Anglo settle bitter legal battle

A conditional judgment for €445m is part of the settlement of the long and bitter litigation between the Quinn family and State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

Quinn family and Anglo settle bitter legal battle

A conditional judgment for €445m is part of the settlement of the long and bitter litigation between the Quinn family and State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

Under the settlement, the five adult Quinn children have consented to judgment for €445m - some €88m each - but execution and registration of the judgment will be stayed on conditions.

The conditions were not set out in court today but it is believed they require the Quinns to take certain steps to help secure the return to IBRC of valuable assets in their international property group.

Both sides have also agreed to meet their own costs of the lengthy litigation.

The overall costs, including of legal actions overseas aimed at reversing an alleged asset-stripping scheme, and other steps for asset recovery, are expected to runs to tens of millions.

The settlement was announced to Mr Justice Garrett Simons at the High Court today, on the eleventh day of the family’s action, dating back to 2011.

The judge welcomed the settlement.

The settlement covers proceedings by the Quinns against IBRC and receivers over Anglo loans of €2.34bn and by IBRC against the Quinns over an alleged conspiracy to strip assets with an estimated worth of €455m.

The settlement deal was brokered while the sides awaited a significant ruling from the judge over whether the Quinns could argue they were unduly influenced by their father to sign guarantees and securities related to hundreds of millions of loans made by Anglo Irish Bank to Quinn companies.

Aoife and Brenda Quinn
Aoife and Brenda Quinn

The judge’s refusal to allow the Quinns make that case, on grounds it was radically different from the claim they had pursued over eight years, was a major setback for them.

The talks continued and today Bernard Dunleavy SC said all the proceedings had been resolved. He said the Quinns were very grateful for that and to put the case behind them.

He said the Quinns claim could be struck out with no order for costs. He said there were orders on the bank’s counterclaim which Paul Gallagher SC would outline.

Mr Gallagher said €88,157,399 could be entered against all five Quinns on consent with a stay on registration and execution on terms set out.

IBRC had also brought a third party claim against two former senior Quinn Group executives, Dara O’Reilly and Liam McCaffrey. They were joined to the case for the purpose of IBRC seeking an indemnity against them should the Quinns win their case. Both men denied they acted as agents of the Quinn children in relation to the disputed securities.

Because a dispute persists about who should pay the legal costs of the two third parties, orders concerning the third party claim will be made later.

IBRC special liquidator Kieran Wallace was in court today. None of the Quinn plaintiffs were in court. Among those in the packed courtroom was Michael Staines, who had been keeping a watching brief for jailed former Anglo CEO David Drumm, whom the Quinns had sought to subpoena to give evidence.

The Quinns initiated their action eight years ago as Anglo Irish Bank, owned some €2.89bn by the Quinn group, moved to take over the group companies.

Brenda, Ciara, Colette and Aoife Quinn
Brenda, Ciara, Colette and Aoife Quinn

IBRC, into which Anglo was nationalised following its collapse, brought a parallel action over an alleged scheme to strip hundreds of millions worth of assets from the Quinns' international property group.

The full hearing of both actions was delayed over years to allow for conclusion of criminal cases against various former Anglo executives and officials.

However, there were multiple pre-trial applications in both cases over the years, including to try and recover assets in countries including Russia, Ukraine and India.

The jailing last year of former Anglo CEO David Drumm finally cleared the way for the family's case to open on March 12 last.

In their case, which could have run for several months, the Quinns had disputed the validity of loans of some €2.34bn made by Anglo to Quinn Group firms in 2007 to fund "contract for difference" (CFDs) positions built up by Sean Quinn senior in Anglo.

The CFDs involved an agreement to exchange the difference between the current and future price of shares in Anglo. When Anglo's share price continued to drop in 2008, the bank demanded the Quinns reduce the CFD position and most of the CFDs were unwound into shares.

One portion of those was purchased by a group of investors known as the "Maple Ten" and the rest by the Quinn Group. The Quinn shares were transferred to six Quinn-owned Cypriot companies which ultimately received €498m from Anglo.

Colette and Ciara Quinn
Colette and Ciara Quinn

When presenting the Quinns case, Mr Dunleavy said Sean Quinn Senior had gambled with his children’s property and future when he spent hundreds of millions on Anglo shares and Anglo, the "worst bank", was well aware he was doing so.

The five children got no independent legal advice when asked to sign personal guarantees and share pledges arising from the loans advanced by Anglo and have been left with the “disastrous” consequences of those, he said.

The Quinns disputed the bank's counterclaim they are liable for some €410m under personal guarantees.

In IBRC's opening statement, senior counsel Paul Gallagher said the Quinn family had used the group as their “personal bank” and “raided” it for almost €2bn to fund significant losses from investments related to Anglo shares, property acquisitions and lifestyle expenses.

The personal expenses included a €1m bill for Ciara Quinn’s wedding in 2007 paid by the Sliabh Russell Hotel Ltd company and never repaid, he said.

The Quinns actions jeopardised the financial stability of a group projected in 2010 as worth €3bn when it was, in fact, insolvent, he said. They used whatever cash they could to fund “enormous losses”, including funds taken out of Quinn Insurance Ltd which now has a shortfall of more than €1bn, he added.

€511m was also raised in late 2007 to loan monies to the Quinn group to “repair holes” in its finances and meet requirements of banks and bondholders.

After the opening statements, Brenda Quinn, the youngest of the Quinns, was to begin her evidence but that was delayed while the Quinns lawyers applied to be permitted pursue claims of undue influence against Sean Quinn senior. Talks began pending the judge's ruling on that application and intensified after he refused it.

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