Northern Ireland

Sean Quinn in last-minute Supreme Court appeal

Sean Quinn
Image caption Sean Quinn was found in contempt of court last month

A judge at the High Court in Dublin has been asked not to jail bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn so he can oversee the compliance of court orders.

Mr Quinn, once Ireland's richest man, will discover later if he will faces prison for contempt of court and failure to comply with court orders.

Lawyers for the former Anglo-Irish Bank said his son Sean and nephew Peter should be jailed.

The family is seeking a last-minute appeal to the Irish Supreme Court.

Judge Elizabeth Dunne is considering the request, but even if she grants leave to appeal, it may not alter her decision on punitive measures.

The High Court in Dublin has already found Mr Quinn, his son Sean Jr and nephew Peter Daragh Quinn in contempt.

An appeal to the Supreme Court can take years, though in a high profile case like this it would be fast-tracked.

Papers

Therefore, Judge Dunne could grant leave while still jailing the three men.

Anglo was bailed out by Irish taxpayers and is now controlled by the Irish Banking Resolution Company (IBRC).

A lawyer for IBRC told the judge they received papers from the Quinns' lawyers at 04:00 BST on Friday.

He said the men seemed to be prepared to spend time in prison if it meant they could hold on to their assets.

The High Court found that the Quinns put almost half a billion euro worth of assets beyond the reach of the former Anglo-Irish Bank.

Anglo was bailed out by Irish taxpayers and is now controlled by the Irish Banking Resolution Company (IBRC).

The IBRC's function is to recover assets on behalf of taxpayers and, in total, it claims the Quinns owe it about £2bn.

High Court deadline

The assets that the Quinns put beyond IBRC's reach consist mainly of foreign property holdings, mainly in Russia and Ukraine.

The two sides have been locked in bitter legal disputes in different parts of the world as the bank tries to recover its money.

Three weeks ago, the High Court set a deadline of Friday 20 July for the Fermanagh businessman and his family to co-operate with the IBRC.

Since then, lawyers for both camps have held meetings and - depending on the judge's view on those negotiations - the three men could find out later on Friday whether they will have to go to jail.

At the height of his success, Mr Quinn was the richest person on the island of Ireland and the 12th wealthiest in the UK.

The 64 year old, who was born in Derrylin in County Fermanagh, left school at 14 and built a multi-billion pound business empire.

Business portfolio

He started with a cement factory close to his family home near the Fermanagh/Cavan border and then expanded to produced other materials including glass, plastics and packaging.

The Quinn Group later moved into health care and insurance and its portfolio included hotels and shopping centres.

In April 2011, his family firm passed into the control of the IBRC.

However, the bank found itself locked out of the company that controlled the Quinn property portfolio as money and ownership disappeared into a network of companies across the world.

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