In 2008, Sean Quinn was Ireland’s richest man, with an estimated fortune of EUR4Bn. By January 2012, he was bankrupt, owing Anglo-Irish Bank EUR2.3Bn.
That’s a classic boom and bust story all by itself, but the entanglement with Anglo-Irish Bank goes much deeper than that. The BBC reports:
The family of Fermanagh businessman Sean Quinn have begun a legal challenge to a claim they owe the former Anglo Irish Bank over 2.3bn euros.
At a hearing in Dublin, lawyers for Mr Quinn’s family said the bank had engaged in “serious illegal activity on a persistent and ongoing basis”.
The preliminary hearing is taking place at Dublin’s Commerical Court.
If Mr Quinn’s wife and children lose, they could follow Mr Quinn into bankruptcy.
The court heard that between October 2005 and July 2007 Sean Quinn had built up a 28% stake in the former Anglo using contracts for difference – a financial instrument used to gamble on the bank share price.
When senior executives at the bank learnt of this “colossal interest” in September 2007, a system was set up whereby money was loaned to the Quinn group to support this share position.
So Quinn, who was financed by Anglo-Irish Bank, was buying a large stake, geared by CFDs, in… Anglo Irish Bank. Well, despite Quinn’s lawyer’s hopes, I don’t think that revelation is going to help Quinn all that much. It certainly hasn’t helped Sean FitzPatrick, former Chairman and CEO of Anglo-Irish bank:
Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman and chief executive Sean FitzPatrick is to go on trial accused of unlawfully helping to back a group of investors – including members of Sean Quinn’s family – to buy shares in the financial institution in 2008.
The 64-year-old had been questioned previously during a three-and-a-half year probe by detectives from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation attached to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) into alleged financial irregularities at the failed bank.
The multi-millionaire, with an address at Camaderry, Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, stepped down in December 2008.
Anglo was subsequently nationalised and re-branded the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) with its collapse costing Irish taxpayers about €30bn.
Meanwhile the IBRC is trying to recover such assets as it can from the debtors of the former Anglo-Irish Bank. It ran into such difficulties with one particular debtor that it has had to resort to a worldwide search for the missing assets. That one particular debtor, naturally enough, is Sean Quinn:
The former Anglo Irish Bank is attempting to seize all the Irish and global assets of the daughters and sons-in-law of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn.
Anglo, now known as the IBRC, said the Quinns cannot be trusted to comply with court orders not to strip valuable assets from the family’s €500m (£400m) International Property Group (IPG).
The court orders already issued against members of the Quinn family freeze their bank accounts and restrict them to €2,000 (£1,600) a week for expenses.
Last month, the High Court in Dublin froze the assets of Fermanagh native Mr Quinn’s children: Aoife, Ciara, Colette, Brenda and Sean Jnr.
Mr Quinn’s nephew, Peter Darragh Quinn, the former head of IPG, and sons-in-law Stephen Kelly and Niall McPartland, were also ordered not to reduce their assets below €50m (£40m).
But yesterday the IBRC went back to the Irish court to ask permission to seek orders appointing receivers over the worldwide assets. The request, if approved, would result in the Quinns losing control over all of their personal assets.
Well, maybe it will have that result. It depends where the worldwide receivers are looking for the assets. The signs are that it might be a bit tricky:
THE global hunt for what’s left of Sean Quinn’s fortune has switched to a tax haven chain of tropical islands in the South Pacific.
Financial investigators hired by the former Anglo Irish Bank were dispatched to Vanuatu last week, in what could prove to be a “critical stage” in its efforts to track down the fallen tycoon’s foreign assets.
It was alleged that Sean Quinn, his son Sean Junior and his nephew Peter conspired to put €455m — tied up in the family’s overseas property portfolio — out of reach, rather than repay the bank. Anglo, now known as Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), has been engaged in more than 40 legal actions across the world in an attempt to trace the assets.
A source close to the financial investigation says their inquiries have now reached a “critical” stage.
The investigation is headed by Risk Management International, a private investigation firm, in conjunction with the Kroll agency in London.
The team was in Australia and New Zealand last week, and it is believed the link to Vanuatu was unearthed during investigations in Sydney and Melbourne.
A source close to the investigation told the Sunday Independent that RMI and Kroll are working around the clock to track down the Quinn assets that are now owed to the taxpayer. “We have reached a critical stage,” the source said. “There are tens of millions in cash missing.”
Aficionados of my series of posts on New Zealand, if any survive, will at this point have an ‘aha’ moment. Australia is rogue incorporator Ian Taylor’s current country of residence, New Zealand is his last one, and Vanuatu is where many of his shell companies were incorporated (see here and here).
It seems unlikely that there are two large scale asset hiders active in exactly these locations. So it must be a reasonable bet that RMI and Kroll have been talking to Ian Taylor. Evidently he didn’t tell them that he moved his legacy operation to Malaysia at the end of 2010, (details here and here), otherwise they’d be looking there too.
So that’s my tip to RMI and Kroll, if they have been talking to Ian Taylor, and come up empty-handed from their trip to Australia, New Zealand and Vanuatu: try Malaysia.
UPDATE: belter of a link from commenter OMF. The Ukraine connection is another trait shared with Ian Taylor operations.