The family of Sean Quinn, once Ireland’s richest man, has been given until 24 September by a Dublin court to provide information needed to resolve its legal dispute with a state-owned bank.
Speaking on its own behalf, the family told the court it could no longer afford to pay its lawyers and does not know how to proceed without them.
Justice Peter Charleton on 3 September granted the Quinns three more weeks to produce documents on offshore assets sought by the former Anglo Irish Bank, which is trying to recover billions from the family.
Once worth about €4 billion, Quinn's business empire collapsed after investing in the now-nationalised Anglo. The former billionaire was declared bankrupt earlier this year.
The family is denying liability for up to €2.8 billion of loans Anglo made to Quinn companies. The Quinns had used money borrowed from the bank to buy significant shares in Anglo, which was badly hit by the economic crisis. They allege the bank hid its problems from investors.
Quinn’s wife, Patricia, and their five children have also brought proceedings in the Irish Commercial Court against the bank, now the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation after its state-mandated merger with Irish Nationwide Building Society. The family claims it is not liable for €2.35 billion of loans made to Quinn companies, saying Anglo advanced the loans to support its share price.
Quinn’s daughter Brenda – who appeared in court with two of her brothers-in-law – told the judge the family needed time to consider what to do. But she said the Quinns were determined to pursue the court case.
The bank is also demanding the Quinns provide the documents, reportedly on the family’s overseas properties, before agreeing to any changes in the freezing orders on the Quinns’ accounts, now controlled by receivers.
The Quinns are seeking a change in the freezing orders to allow for €40,000 from their accounts to be paid to overseas lawyers representing the family.
A judicial order was issued for the documents in July, but three days later the family reported that memory sticks containing documents had been stolen.
In June, Quinn and two family members were found guilty of contempt by a Dublin court for putting international property assets beyond the reach of IBRC, in defiance of a High Court order issued last year.
Quinn escaped jail but his son and nephew were handed three-month prison sentences. Sean Quinn Jr was jailed but cousin Peter Darragh Quinn remained at large.