Sean Quinn Snr.
The High Court has found bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn, his son and nephew guilty of contempt of court orders restraining them from putting multi-million euro assets in their international property group beyond the reach of the former Anglo Irish Bank. All three had engaged in a complex, complicated and no doubt costly series of steps designed to put assets beyond the reach of the bank in "a blatant, dishonest and deceitful manner", Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne found.
They had also "consciously misled" courts here and abroad and had sought to deprive Anglo of assets, which would go some way towards discharging their admitted indebtedness, she said, noting the Quinns accepted they owned the bank some €455m while disputing its claim they also owe it an additional €2.3bn.
Sean Quinn had during his evidence spoken of the Quinn Group and its importance as an employer of some 7,000 people and one could appreciate the ability that led to the creation of such a business empire, the judge said. He had also spoken of the honourable, respectable way in which the businesses of the Quinn Group were run.
"I wish I could say the same about the manner in which the resdpondents have dealt with the adverse circumstances in which they now find themselevs having regard to the collapse of the Quinn business empire."
The behaviour of the three outlined in the evidence to the court was "as far removed from the concept of honour and respectability as it is possible to be", she remarked.
The judge will decide on Friday the sanctions to be imposed on the three who were in court for today's ruling in which the judge described the evidence of all three as unbelievable and evasive in many respects.
Given her findings, and while she thought the coercive aspect of the sanction should be to the fore, it would be "very difficult" to persuade her there should not be a punitive element to the sanction, the judge said.
Outside court, Sean Quinn described the judgment as "interesting" and said he was not dishonest.
The bank is to indicate to the Quinn side by 8pm on Wednesday what sanctions it is seeking and the judge will hear from both sides on that issue on Friday before making her decision.
Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (formerly Anglo), which is pursuing the Quinn family for repayment of loans of some €2.8bn, had brought the contempt proceedings against the businessman, his son Sean and nephew Peter Darragh Quinn.
At the outset of the case, the bank said it wanted orders for attachment and, if necessary, committal of the three for contempt of orders made in June and July 2011.
The three denied contempt and, while admitting steps were taken to put assets beyond the bank's reach, insisted no steps were taken in pursuit of that scheme after the court orders were made.
The judge had reserved judgment last month on the 15-day hearing.
Her judgment today comes amid claims by the bank that steps may have been continued during the contempt proceedings in relation to the alleged scheme to move assets out of its reach.
The bank earlier this month secured orders freezing the accounts held or controlled by the five adult children of Mr Quinn, his nephew Peter Darragh Quinn and two sons in law, Stephen Kelly and Niall McPartland, below €50m, apart from weekly living expenses of €2,000.
IBRC had claimed Mr Quinn and members of his family were "determined" to put assets beyond the reach the bank for "the avowed purpose" of ensuring, if the bank won its case aimed at recovering monies from those assets, there would be "nothing" there for it.
The restraint orders were made in proceedings where the bank sought to prevent assets in the international property group, valued at up to €500m and over which the bank claims it has securities, being put beyond its reach.
The bank claimed contempt by Sean Quinn Senior and Peter Quinn via their alleged involvement in the alleged assigment of about US$130m worth of loans to a Belize entity for nominal consideration on or after July 20, 2011, and in back-dating those loans to April 2011. The judge found contempt against the two in that regard.
The judge also found contempt against the two via their involvement in an alleged fraudulent assigment on or after July 6, 2011 of a €45.2m debt to a Northern Ireland company, Innishmore, controlled by Peter Darragh Quinn, with a view to taking control of a Ukranian property asset worth about US$78m. A Northern Ireland court recently declared that assignment was invalid.
All three respondents were also alleged to have been involved in late August 2011 in a process leading to a US$500,000 payment being made out of the accounts of Quinn Properties Ukraine to its general director, Ms Janis Puga. That money remains frozen.
The judge found contempt against all three in relation to that transaction.
In separate proceedings, Mrs Patricia Quinn and her five adult children, who have owned the Quinn companies since 2002, claim they are not liable for loans of some €2.8bn made by Anglo to Quinn companies because those loans were unlawfully made to prop up the bank's share price.