Sean Quinn bankrupt over Anglo debts

 

Sean Quinn, once Ireland's richest man, has declared himself bankrupt in a Belfast court over nearly three billion euro of debts to the former Anglo-Irish Bank.

The entrepreneur's multi-billion 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.

But the bank, rebranded as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), warned that Mr Quinn and his family owe the Irish state 2.9 billion euro (£2.5 billion) and challenged his claim of UK residency.

The 64-year-old was finally stripped of all control of his business empire in April this year and is involved in complex legal wrangles on the outcome of the collapse. He says he owes around 194 million euro (£166 million) to the bank, but disputes the remaining debt.

He was a true rags-to-riches story, setting out on his career with a £100 loan to dig gravel on his father's farm, but who was worth a reputed 4.72 billion euro (£3.7 billion) at the height of his business success.

"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's bankruptcy declaration in the High Court 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.

The IBRC issued a statement disputing that Mr Quinn is resident in Northern Ireland and claimed the family live in Co Cavan, on the southern side of the Irish 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 his flagship insurance business, which was fined 3 million euro (£2.6 million) over financial errors.

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

Dubbed the "Mighty Quinn", he left school at 14 to work on the family farm and dug a hole on the land and opened a quarry selling to local builders.

From small beginnings he took on Cement Roadstone Holdings, which had the market sewn up, and then turned his business attentions to glass, plastics and ultimately what was to become the cash cow of his international empire - Quinn Insurance.

Mr Quinn accused the Irish Government of holding him at fault for the devastation wreaked on the Republic's economy after Anglo - the developers' bank - went bust.

"I worked tirelessly to find a solution to the problems, which arose from ill-fated investments in Anglo," Mr Quinn said.

"Anglo, and more recently the Irish Government, are intent on making scapegoats of my family and I."

In the lengthy statement issued after the bankruptcy declaration, 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.

He claimed to have created 5,000 jobs in Ireland at one stage and paid 1 billion euro (£850 million) in tax.

Mr Quinn insisted that he did not bring down his empire, started in 1973, through the complex share trades which went belly up.

He has always maintained that he would have been able to service his 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 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.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor