Ex-tycoon Sean Quinn down to his last few thousand Euro

HE MAY once have been Ireland’s richest man, or certainly the country’s biggest lender.

But former insurance and construction tycoon Sean Quinn says he has just €11,169, drives a €4,670 04-reg Merc and has little or no assets left.

Control of all his businesses have long been handed over to his children and all his worldwide assets have now been placed under the control of the Official Receiver in Northern Ireland.

According to a list of income, expenditure and assets provided at his recent bankruptcy application in Belfast, he has to pay £1,200 each month in utility bills at his palatial Cavan mansion.

Unlike so many other people these days, he is – however – fortunate enough not to have to make any mortgage payments on the sprawling Ballyconnell property.

It was also stated that the house was built and paid for by his children, who own it.

He also says that other monthly bills include £100 for clothes, £80 for travel, and £150 for phone.

Housekeeping – which includes cleaning bills and food – comes to £850-a-month.

Although his house is not mentioned as an asset in the documents lodged at Belfast’s High Court, the recent sale for £100,000 of a site at the address to his children is.

Mr Quinn, who is being pursued for more than €2billion in disputed debts by former Anglo Irish Bank, now IBRC, has just €137 in his Ballyconnell Ulster Bank account.

A Sterling amount of £69.36 is lodged with Bank of Ireland in Lisnakea in County Fermanagh and €10,951 in another account with the bank at its Cavan town branch.

Last Friday, Mr Quinn’s solicitor John Gordon told The Irish Times that the Statement of Affairs filed with the High Court in Belfast listed his assets as being less than £50,000 and stated he had no income.

He also stated that he had a pension which will pay him less than £10,000-a-year when he starts drawing down on it.

Mr Quinn’s lawyers will be in court on Monday in Dublin to respond to IBRC’s application to have his Northern Ireland bankruptcy over-turned.

They had applied for this in The Commercial Court last Monday but the matter was adjourned to give Mr Quinn’s legal team a chance to respond.

During their application, an affidavit by the bank’s lawyers revealed the extent to which officials had tried to establish where exactly Mr Quinn was based.

This was needed, they argued, to contradict his claim to have his main centre of business in Northern Ireland.

As part of his bankruptcy petition, he had said in a statement: ‘I was born, reared and worked all my life in Co Fermanagh.

‘It is for this reason that my bankruptcy application was made in Northern Ireland.’

His successful application caught IBRC by surprise and lawyers immediately began the process of ‘examining the validity of this application for bankruptcy’.

In a statement, they said they were doing this because they believed Mr Quinn’s main residence is in Co Cavan and because he has ‘extensive business interests and liabilities within the State’.

As part of their bid to have last Friday’s High Court declaration over turned on Monday, they attacked his claim to have most of his business interests in the North.

They surveyed more than 147 companies – 52 of which were registered in the UK – and noted that for his companies based in the Republic of Ireland, all 95 of them show his home address as being in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan.

The same address is given for his UK company directorships.

The IBRC insisted on Monday that Mr Quinn no longer actually has any UK-based directorships, despite the bankruptcy order in his favour listing his business address as being in Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

‘That information is seriously at odds with (IBRC’s) information and accordingly, there exists a basis for challenging the determination that the seat of the main insolvency proceedings for Sean Quinn is Northern Ireland,’ they said.

‘(IBRC’s) consistent understanding of the business of Sean Quinn is inconsistent with the contention that his centre of main interest is Northern Ireland.’

They added: ‘(Mr Quinn) has consistently indicated that his home is at Ballyconnell, County Cavan in the Republic of Ireland.

‘He has done so in the Form B1 Annual Return of all 95 companies registered in the Republic of Ireland in respect of which he is or was a director.’

The bank, in its affidavit, insisted that since it has started to take action against Mr Quinn, he has ‘to (IBRS’s) consistent knowledge, been residing in and operating out of his family home in Ballyconnell and in offices at a disused tyre factory in Belturbet, Co Cavan.

‘All of the Quinn family live in this jurisdiction, they instruct solicitors in this jurisdiction to manage their affairs, their bank accounts are with Irish banks.

‘(IBRC’s) consistent understanding is that Sean Quinn has been operating out of Cavan.

‘In terms of a business premises, it has been (IBRC’s) consistent understanding that Sean Quinn has been operating from the tyre plant in Belturbet, Co Cavan.’

However, a day after details of this affidavit were published. Mr Quinn’s statement about his income, expenditure and assets were leaked to a newspaper.

The details are now being examined by IBRC’s legal team and are likely to feature again when their bid to overturn the bankruptcy returns to court on Monday.

An IBRC spokeswoman said last night: ‘IBRC welcomes the decision of the Commercial Court to enter the proceedings served against Sean and Patricia Quinn on 3 November 2011 to its list so that it will benefit from the expedited procedures available in that court.

‘IBRC will continue to seek to enforce the security granted in favour of it by the Quinns.

‘IBRC will contest the validity of Sean Quinn’s application for bankruptcy in the Northern Ireland.

‘As a nationalised financial institution, IBRC is determined to recoup its costs and to maximise recovery for the taxpayer and the State.’

ends

Some Dublin in sun, January 05, 2011.

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Thomas Byrne car collection seized

LUXURY car collection worth almost €300,000 owned by disgraced lawyer Thomas Byrne was seized just days before the Law Society shut his practice down.

A group of five men turned up to a lockup on an industrial estate in Walkinstown where the collection was parked, and drove away a number of cars.

They are understood to be used by drivers at two limousine-hire companies believed to have been funded by Mr Byrne, who last Wednesday was ordered by the High Court to pay e30m back to four financial institutions. He was before the courts in connection with dodgy home loans totalling €35m.

One of the biggest loans is the e9m he borrowed from IIB Bank in August. As well as demanding that Mr Byrne hand the money back, the judge has also ordered that he be investigated by the National Bureau of Fraud Investigation.

And on Friday, detectives from the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and the fraud bureau seized thousands of documents belonging to the solicitor that were stored at the Law Society.

The car collection included two replica 1930s-style Beauford Tourer convertibles worth e16,000 each, a €78,000 Bentley Arnage, a €120,000 Bentley Continental Flying Spur and a €56,000 Mercedes E Class.

The cars were hired out as part of corporate and private packages. One of the companies employs drivers who all have ‘security clearance at diplomatic level’.

Some of the cars were stored at a garage on the industrial estate but were driven away some time after businessman Brian Downes, 40 – reportedly a client of Mr Byrne – was gunned down.

Downes was shot in Walkinstown, south Dublin, along with local car dealer Eddie Ward, 27 – with whom he happened to be talking at the time – on October 5. Downes was a gangland ‘Mr Fixit’ said to have been involved in money laundering and stolen cars. At the time of his death, he is thought to have had assets of more than €7.5m and was being investigated by CAB.

According to newspaper reports, CAB detectives were also taking an interest in Mr Byrne – who is not known to have either been convicted of any criminal offences or been involved in criminal activity.

But he is said to be living in fear of his life because a number of his clients are believed to be linked to various crime bosses.

Mr Byrne’s link to Downes was further underlined last night when it emerged that he used Mr Byrne’s former marital home as his private address.

The 5 Greenhills Road address – where Mr Byrne used to live with estranged wife Michelle, is given under details of Downes’s directorship of a firm called Vans for Cash Ltd, which was set up last January.

A former associate of Mr Byrne said last night: ‘Everyone is trying to make sense of what on earth has been going on in this guy’s life.

‘The people who came to collect his cars didn’t look as if they worked for your regular, main street collection agency.

‘There wasn’t any violence but from what I hear, they made sure people knew they meant business and fully intended taking back the cars.’ The source added: ‘Very few people outside Byrne’s circle of business associates knew anything about the likes of Brian Downes.

‘The word going round now is that Byrne was way out of his depth and may well have been pressurised into taking out loans by some pretty shadowy figures.

‘It’s little wonder he doesn’t look like a well man. He is not only in a lot of trouble with the authorities but some of his business associates and clients are genuinely concerned that the trouble he is in could lead a trail to their door.’ Last Wednesday, the High Court heard that 10 EBS loans were made to Mr Byrne between August 2003 and August 2007 to help him buy property.

Mr Byrne owes the firm at least e12.5m, a further e4.8m to Anglo Irish Bank and e2.5m to ACC Bank.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly in the Commercial Court said Mr Byrne’s files should be handed over to fraud detectives because they contain what he described as ‘disturbing matters’.

What has stunned observers as much as the size of his loans, is how Mr Byrne was ever loaned any money after being found guilty of misconduct on December 7, 2006, by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal on eight counts.

These included the fact that he allowed a €1,696,969 deficit in his client account, failed to maintain proper accounts between dates in 2004 and 2005 and ‘allowed personal transactions of the solicitor himself to be drawn down from the client bank account, where no cleared funds were held on his behalf.’ As a result, he had to pay e15,000 to the Solicitors’ Compensation Fund and pay the Law Society’s costs.

Details of the case would have shown up on the most basic free search using internet-engine Google.

Mr Byrne – a director in Compass Property Development – is the second Dublin solicitor in almost as many months to have action taken against him by the Law Society of Ireland, not to mention a string of banks who loaned vast sums of cash.

The other solicitor being investigated, Michael Lynn, faces having to repay up to €70m in loans.

His case could also result in criminal proceedings against him.