Former Irish Richest Man Quinn Found in Contempt of Court

Bankrupt Irish businessman Sean Quinn, once the country’s richest man, may face “punitive and coercive” sanctions after being found in contempt of court by an Irish judge.

Quinn, his son Sean and nephew Peter Darragh Quinn continued to place assets outside the reach of nationalized Irish Bank Resolution Corp., formerly Anglo Irish Bank Corp., after the court ordered them to stop last year, Judge Elizabeth Dunne said today. Both sides will return to court on June 29 after considering the ruling.

“It will be very difficult to persuade me that there would not be a punitive element as well as a coercive element” to remedies to the contempt, she said. “Sean Quinn was a witness who was evasive and uncooperative.”

Quinn told reporters outside the court complex that he wasn’t dishonest, declining to answer any more questions. The former cement-to-insurance tycoon was declared bankrupt in January, two months after a court ruled Quinn owed IBRC 2.16 billion euros. Quinn was worth about $6 billion in 2008, Forbes magazine said.

“The proven planned, covert and illicit actions taken by the Quinns and connected parties have resulted in millions of euros being lost or put at risk,” said Mike Aynsley, chief executive officer at IBRC, which said the case revolved around about 500 million euros of real estate.


Quinn Group said in April 2010 that the 2.8 billion euros owned by the Quinn family are “due primarily to equity losses of circa 3 billion euros,” with the debt secured on family’s international property portfolio and shareholding in the group. Quinn’s losses largely stem from his investment in Anglo Irish through financial derivatives called contracts for difference.

The Quinns “engaged in a complex, complicated and, no doubt, costly, series of steps designed to put the assets beyond the reach of Anglo, in a blatant, dishonest and deceitful manner,” the judge said. “The behavior of the respondents outlined in evidence before me is as far removed from the concept of honor and respectability as it is possible to me.”

In April of last year, Anglo Irish seized control of the equity interest in Quinn Group (ROI) Ltd., with interests spanning from making glass bottles to radiators. Boston-based Liberty Mutual Group Inc. and Anglo Irish also took over Quinn Insurance Ltd. as Quinn was ousted from the debt-laden empire built up from the sand quarrying operation he set up on his father’s farm in 1973.

The state nationalized Anglo Irish in January 2009 and the lender has since received 29.3 billion euros of taxpayer bailouts, after a real-estate bubble burst in 2008. The bank merged with fellow lender Irish Nationwide Building Society last year and was renamed as IBRC.

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