Sean Quinn jailed for nine weeks, pending appeal02/11/2012 - 11:36:29
The High Court has today imposed a nine-week jail sentence on bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn for contempt of court.
A judge at the High Court in Dublin told the former tycoon the court had no choice but to sentence him for his outrageous contempt and his role in a scheme that put the family’s €500m international property empire beyond the reach of the former Anglo Irish Bank.
The 66-year-old must now tell the court before 1pm if he will begin his sentence today or after his appeal to the Supreme Court.
Quinn Snr owes the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (formerly Anglo Irish Bank) €2.8bn after running up unprecedented losses through stock investments in the bank as its share price collapsed.
The family admit they owe €455m but have refused the claims on the rest and have taken a counter-case against the bank over a loans deal.
Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne told Quinn he had committed a serious contempt of court which had been nothing short of outrageous, and that he had been evasive, unco-operative and not credible during an earlier hearing.
The 66-year-old was flanked by supporters in the courtroom, which was packed with barristers, onlookers and media.
The resigned-looking former cement, insurance and property tycoon looked close to tears as he held a crumpled tissue in his hand, looking straight ahead with his bloodshot eyes.
The judge said she acknowledged Quinn’s evidence that the case has had a negative impact on him and his family.
“In my view, he has only himself to blame,” she added.
In passing sentence, the judge said she was taking into account Quinn's bad health, his good character before this case and his charity work, but warned that she had to impose a jail term.
“I cannot come to any other conclusion but that the contempt of court of which Mr Quinn was found guilty falls into the category of cases involving serious conduct which mandates that a term of imprisonment be imposed to punish the party guilty of contempt,” she said.
“It is important to ensure that orders of the court are complied with and that the integrity of the court system is not set at naught by an egregious breach of a court order.”
The contempt centres on a High Court order made in June and July 2011 which told Quinn, his son Sean Junior and nephew Peter Darragh Quinn not to act to put assets in their international property group (IPG) beyond the reach of the former Anglo.
Judge Dunne said Quinn Senior gave his backing to the scheme and found him guilty of contempt on three issues – that he back-dated his signature on documents relating to two companies and was involved in the “Puga payment” of $500,000 in Ukraine before one of the firms was taken over.
Quinn Jnr was freed from jail two weeks ago after serving three months for one count of contempt, while his cousin Darragh Quinn – son of former GAA president Peter Quinn – remains at large since a similar sentence was imposed in July.
Quinn Jnr stood in court with his brother-in-law, solicitor Niall McPartland, as his father was jailed.
In her original ruling on the contempt, the judge said the men consciously defied and misled the courts as they shifted family assets as far afield as Ukraine, Russia and Belize and put the punitive element of Quinn Snr’s sentencing for contempt was on hold to see what measures he takes to recover assets.
Barristers for Quinn yesterday claimed he was committed to purging his contempt and made an “impassioned plea” for him to remain a free man given his serious health conditions and his attempts to assist the bank.
But IBRC told the judge Quinn had not reversed the asset-stripping scheme he sanctioned, and that the bank has continued to encounter fraudulent activity and delays orchestrated by the family to prevent the recovering of assets in Russia, Ukraine and India.
IBRC will also tell the judge next week if it wants Quinn Jnr to take any further steps to reverse the asset-stripping scheme.
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