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Bank used covert operation to oust Ireland’s Quinn family, report

Anglo Irish Bank used a covert operation to oust the Quinns from the family business, according to a report in an Irish newspaper.

Anglo Irish Bank used a covert operation to oust the Quinns from the family business, according to a report in an Irish newspaper.

The bank, which was nationalised by the Irish government in 2009, invited Sean Quinn, once Ireland’s richest man, to a meeting at its Dublin headquarters last April, the Sunday Independent reported.

At the same time as the meeting, it appointed a receiver to the shares of the Quinn Group to recover the €2.8 billion owned to the bank by the Quinn family.

A draft document seen by the newspaper said: "SQ [Sean Quinn] will not be able to act sufficiently quickly to obtain injunctions to prevent the appointment of the SR [share receiver] and/or the changes to the board being made."

Quinn developed a business empire from a gravel pit, building it up to include cement, hotels, pubs, financial services and insurance divisions. His brother, nephew and five children all worked in the business.

However, before the onset of Ireland’s financial problems, the family embarked on a share-buying spree in Anglo, using money loaned by the bank, which ultimately proved disastrous.

The Quinns’ stake in the bank became worthless after the global economic crash badly hit Anglo, causing its shares to plummet and leading to its nationalisation, but the loans remained outstanding.

“Anglo Irish Bank, on behalf of the Irish taxpayer, in seeking to recover debts owed to the bank by the Quinn family, appointed a share receiver to protect the security on outstanding loans which were not being repaid,” said a spokeswoman for the bank.

A statement from Anglo added that the decision to appoint a receiver followed “exhaustive engagement” with the Quinn family and the process was “undertaken professionally and efficiently with the co-operation of the chairman and non-executive directors of the board of the Quinn Group”.

According to the Sunday Independent, the briefing document it saw also addressed questions new bosses might receive from the media – including queries suggesting that the bank was ”hugely responsible for what happened”.

The supplied answer was: "The exceptionally serious problem which faces the Quinn Group has been caused by the recklessness of the owners.”

Quinn, who was once ranked as the 164th richest man in the world with a fortune of $6 billion (€4.25 billion), was the biggest individual loser of the financial crisis, according to Forbes. 

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