Quinn begins nine week jail sentence
on 02/11/2012 18:58:51
The bankrupt businessman was jailed for nine weeks for an outrageous contempt of court and failing to untangle a scheme that put the family's €500m international property empire beyond the reach of the former Anglo Irish Bank.
Moments before he was led away, the former cement, insurance and property tycoon hit out at the debt-laden Irish state-owned lender and called for investigations into why a receiver was ever appointed to his beloved Quinn Group, which he built from scratch from a £100 loan.
"They took all my money, they took my companies, they took my reputation and they put me in jail, but yet they've proven nothing," he said.
"They haven't proven this money is owed. They haven't proven the right to put in the receiver.
"The whole thing is a charade."
The 66-year-old family man, who had been flanked by supporters and well-wishers in the High Court in Dublin, cut a lonely figure as he climbed into the back of a garda van that took him to Mountjoy Prison, where he will spend his first night before a transfer to the low-security training unit where his son, Sean Quinn junior, was released from two weeks ago.
He cried as he held a crumpled tissue in his hand, looking straight ahead with his bloodshot eyes before waiving his right to a stay out of prison until his appeal is heard in the Supreme Court.
"I'm a very positive person, I like to see things done in time, so if it's going to happen in a week, a month or six months, it's as well getting it dealt with," he said.
Jailing the former tycoon, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne acknowledged the proceedings had negatively consumed Quinn's life.
"In my view, he has only himself to blame," she added.
Quinn, who is due to be freed on January 4, will apply to the Prison Service for temporary compassionate leave to attend his granddaughter's christening on December 22 and for Christmas.
But the father and son both face jail again in the future if neither purge their contempt and recover assets.
Quinn, who came from humble beginnings, was once Ireland's richest man with a fortune of almost €5bn.
He had property investments in Russia, India and the Ukraine which Anglo - owned by the taxpayer - is desperate to get its hands on.
The judge again rejected his evidence that he played no hand, act or part in a scheme to strip the assets, which the family claim they cannot get back.
The broke businessman owes Anglo €2.8bn after running up unprecedented losses through secret stock investments in the bank as its share price collapsed.
The family admit they owe just €455m but have refused the claims on the rest and have taken a counter-case against the bank, rebranded the IBRC (Irish Bank Resolution Corporation), over a loans deal.
Three senior executives from the lender have been charged in the criminal courts over the alleged deal and face trial.
The contempt centres on a High Court order made in June and July 2011 which told Quinn, his son and nephew, Peter Darragh Quinn, not to act to put assets in their international property group (IPG) beyond the reach of Anglo.
Peter - son of former GAA president Peter Quinn - remains at large in Northern Ireland after fleeing the jurisdiction when his three-month sentence was imposed in July.
Passing sentence, Judge Dunne took into account Quinn's bad health, previous good character, how his enterprise became one of the largest in the country, his close links with the GAA and his charity work.
But she said Quinn had committed a serious contempt of court which had been nothing short of outrageous, and had been evasive and unco-operative during the hearing, while his evidence was not credible.
The IBRC claims it continues to encounter fraudulent activity and delays orchestrated by the family to prevent the recovering of assets worldwide.
In an unprecedented move at the end of the case, the father-of-five spoke out and apologised to the Irish public for shifting assets and not taking the legal route against the bailed-out lender, which he accused of ruining the country.
"We didn't do it well, we made lots of mistakes," Quinn admitted.
"If you're saying to me 'Are we white? Am I white?', absolutely no way.
"For 64 of my 66 years I made very little mistakes. I ran my business very very well.
"Did I make mistakes in the last two years? Did my family make mistakes in the last two years? Yes, I did.
"Do I apologise here now in public for that? Yes, I do."