[The judgment is available online here]
Sean Quinn is not apparently a NAMA developer even though he built up a considerable worldwide property portfolio and even though he was, by any measure, a borrower of systemic importance to Anglo, and by extension the State which now 100% owns Anglo (or IBRC as it is now known after its merger with the Irish Nationwide Building Society). But Sean is of considerable interest on here, and his bankruptcy move before Christmas as well the machinations around the shopping centre in Kiev, Ukraine have been covered on here. Given imminent changes in bankruptcy legislation on this side of the Border, Sean’s case is also of interest for highlighting the contrasts in bankruptcy law between the two jurisdictions.
In November 2011, Sean sought and was granted a bankruptcy order. IBRC contested the grant. Today the judge in the High Court in Belfast issued a judgment in which he annulled the previously given order, and it now seems almost certain that IBRC will attempt to bankrupt Sean in Dublin.
The judgment from Belfast is available here, and it makes fascinating reading, and is far less constrained that Judge Kelly’s judgment in December 2011 which saw an order for some €3m granted against Sean’s wife, Patricia.
Personal highlights from the judgment include:
- Sean Quinn says he was “in shock” after Anglo appointed receivers and it became clear Anglo didn’t want him near the business. Perhaps not a surprise that he was “in shock” but it does seem surprising, in light of how the receivership was effected, that he might have entertained a notion of Anglo wanting him to consult with the business in receivership.
- Judge says Sean was hesitant in disclosing details of new business ventures after Quinn group receivership and concludes “on balance of probabilities” lease document on office in Derrylin, Fermanagh was prepared after date claimed by Sean Quinn and was designed to bolster Sean’s present arguments about his centre of main interest being in Northern Ireland
- Commercial lease document relating to Sean Quinn’s current premises in Derrylin, Fermanagh described by judge as a “somewhat curious document” Not drawn up by solicitors, not referred to on Sean’s statement of affairs and despite the monthly rent being only GBP 50 (€60) payable to the landlord described as a friend, apparently necessitating a commercial lease document which referred to remedies in case of default. Also lease signatures weren’t witnessed and no evidence of correspondence involving the premises despite Sean claiming he occupied it since May 2011 and was developing businesses.
- Judge queries invoices from a printers in Tallaght, west Dublin called “Print in Time” which purported to be for letterheads and business cards showing an address of Sean’s new office in Derrylin and says if the invoice was “genuinely dated” then it “is likely” it refers to other letterheads and cards to the ones furnished to the court. Judge also says the invoice didn’t mention compliment slips which Sean furnished to the court.
- Sean Quinn says he was never formally dismissed from the Quinn group
- Judge dismisses Sean’s contention that he was involved in a forestry business in Derrylin by saying “he may well have walked some forestry lands leased to his children but a decision as to whether or not that forestry should be thinned not only does not constitute a business but is a decision of an hour or two”
- Sean says he was meeting former colleagues at the disused tyre factory in Cavan for social reasons and not to conceive a new business. Judge concludes the premises was kitted out “not purely for social reasons”
- Sean says that the bankruptcy form didn’t have enough space to adequately make the full disclosure of facts required. Judge says Sean would have been entitled to affix supplementary sheets.
- Sean didn’t disclose in his bankruptcy application that he had an Irish passport and didn’t have a UK passport, didn’t disclose that he is registered to vote in the Republic and that 20% of his tax is paid to the Revenue Commissioners in the Republic.
UPDATE: 10th January, 2012. The Irish Times has posted an audio clip here in which Sean Quinn, speaking outside the High Court in Belfast, gives his reaction to today’s judgment and after talking about what he claims to be the destruction of the Quinn group by Anglo, says that the group – presumably the Quinn group – will make a loss of €4bn in 2010-2012 and a further €4bn in 2013-2017, he invites journalists to contact him so that he can justify these calculations.