Northern Ireland

Ex-billionaire Sean Quinn 'in contempt of court'

Sean Quinn
Image caption Sean Quinn arrives at the High Court in Dublin on Tuesday

A judge has told former billionaire Sean Quinn that it would be difficult to persuade her against taking action with a "punitive" element against him.

Quinn, his son Sean and nephew Peter Darragh Quinn were found in contempt of court for putting assets beyond the reach of the former Anglo-Irish Bank.

In Dublin's High Court, Judge Elizabeth Dunne said the family's behaviour was deceitful and blatantly dishonest.

She said they had taken every step possible to frustrate the bank.

And she warned them that given the seriousness of the contempt case, it would be difficult to persuade her against enforcing action with "a punitive element as well as coercive".

All three were found to have defied a High Court order over the family's international property portfolio.

Former Anglo Irish Bank, now the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), had accused them of conspiring to put assets beyond the reach of the bank.

The bank wanted to take the properties to help settle Mr Quinn's debts of almost £2bn.

IBRC alleged that the Quinns had breached court orders that prevented them from interfering with property assets in several different jurisdictions.

The three denied that charge but admitted taking steps in Russia and Ukraine to put some of their properties beyond the bank's reach, before last year's court orders.

In her ruling, Judge Elizabeth Dunne described Peter Darragh Quinn's evidence as "evasive, uncooperative and, at times, untruthful."

She said he gave the impression that he would do anything to put assets beyond reach.

The judge said Sean Quinn Junior did not give the truth in evidence and overall was not credible.

Sean Quinn Senior's evidence was also evasive and not credible, she said.

It was "impossible to accept the evidence of Sean Quinn Senior that he had no hand, act or part in Quinn business after April 2011", she said.

The judge said the Quinn family had taken every step possible to frustrate the IRBC as it tried to recover nearly 500m euros of assets in Russia and Ukraine.

The Quinns are expected back in the High Court on Friday, when arguments will be put forward for further action to be taken against them over the contempt.

Judge Dunne warned the Quinns that, given the seriousness of the contempt case, it would be difficult to persuade her against enforcing action with "a punitive element as well as coercive".

Quinn senior hurried from the court and as he got into a car declared: "I am not dishonest."

His son and Peter Darragh were also present for the ruling.

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