Russia’s famously creaky legal system will be put to the test on July 17 with an asset recovery case – and according to A1, the specialist distressed asset firm that is part of Alfa Group, it will pass.
The case smacks of poacher turned gamekeeper: A1 is the M&A arm of Alfa Group (and as Alfa Ekho, was the first company the founders of the group, who include oligarch Mikhail Fridman, set up). Suffice to say, Alfa Group didn’t cover itself in corporate governance glory in the 1990s.
However, in April A1 went into a joint venture with the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), which has been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to recover 12 assets in Eastern Europe (mostly buildings and some companies) that used to belong to the bankrupt developer, Quinn Group.
Sean Quinn, the founder of the group, defaulted on loans worth €2.8bn from the Anglo Irish Bank, which went bust and its assets were taken over by IBRC, which has since been trying to convert them back into cash.
The trouble is that Quinn has not been playing ball. The ownership of most of the assets has been transferred to a number of shell companies and the IBRC has been struggling to make much headway through the Russian legal system. So earlier this year it turned to A1, which is run by one of the three original founders of Alfa Group, Alexei Kuzmichyov.
On July 17, the courts in the regional capital of Kazan will decide in a key case in A1’s campaign in a dispute involving the $60m state-of-the-art logistics park Q-Park, which the Quinn Group built in Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia.
The problem is that the ownership of the park passed from a Quinn Group holding company called Demesne (held via a subsidiary called Logistika), which now belongs to IBRC, to several shell companies that A1 believes are still under the control of Sean Quinn, putting the park out of the reach of creditors.
A1 said in a statement: “It later turned out that on May 11, 2011 the shares of ZAO ‘Logistica’ have been sold to Sean Quinn, Jr.; on June 3, 2011 shares were resold to ZAO ‘Vneshkonsalt’ and in fall of 2011 sold to two Panama companies – Forvar Overseas S.A. and Lockerbie Investments S.A. These acts were allegedly committed in order to eliminate the [IBRC] from the corporate control of ZAO ‘Logistica’ and foreclosure on the assets of ZAO ‘Logistica’.”
Two shell companies – Vneshkonsalt and another creditor to many of the disputed assets, Stroitelnie Tekhnologii – are names that have come up again and again as the owners of almost all of the disputed assets, including Q-Park, according to A1.
A1 says that it doesn’t know who is behind them, but believes they are answering to Sean Quinn. Indeed, both Sean Quinn and his son were arrested last year in Ireland for attempts to receive rental payments for the disputed properties in Russia and Ukraine in violation of the bankruptcy proceedings. “The holdings and properties have been moving in mysterious ways,” says Andrei Polyakovsky, spokesperson for A1. “What we are certain of is that a misappropriation of funds by an unknown group is taking place”.
A1 is trying to prove that Q-Park still owes Demesne $60m from credits for construction and working capital loans, then it can take back control of the park, put its own administrator in and start preparing the company for sale.
All in all, IBRC and A1 are trying to recover 12 assets in Eastern Europe (11 in Russia and the Ukraina shopping mall in Kyiv) collectively worth some $500m. Q-Park is the second most valuable, but the most expensive is the Kutuzov Towers in central Moscow that is worth up to $200m by current estimates. Work on recovering that has already begun, but will take up some time to complete, says Polyakovsky.
And A1 is supremely confident that it will win, because it never loses a fight as a point of principle. This sounds boastful, but it is not an idle boast. Alfa Group was schooled in the ways of business during the chaos of the 1990s and emerged from that time as one of the most powerful conglomerates in the country with a reputation for playing hard and sometimes rough against its rivals. “A1 doesn’t lose in corporate standoffs,” says Polyakovsky. “It’s a principle in the company and part of our strength. Even if we end up losing money on the investment, we will fight within the legal field as long as we have to reach our goal. ”
This was why IBRC came to A1 for help in the first place. A1 contributed $18m to the joint venture as running-about money, plus it is spending about $1m a month on the work, according to Polyakovsky. IBRC contributed all the titles and deeds to all the assets. According to sources familiar with the deal, the proceeds from the recovery and sale of the initial property will be used to compensate A1 costs. After that, the proceeds will be shared with A1 one getting approximately 30% and IBRC getting the larger part.
Sunday Independent to reveal more Anglo tapes
The offshore company was used several years before Quinn was accused by the former Anglo Irish Bank of using a British Virgin Islands company to put multimillion of euros in assets beyond the reach of the bank. Lawyers for Anglo Irish, now known as … See all stories on this topic »
But one group of victims now stand doubly victimised – former employees of the old Anglo Irish Bank, who are still on the staff of IBRC. Professionals who had nothing to do with the high-risk approach at the top. People who, quite literally never did … See all stories on this topic »
Kyiv’s Ukraina mall seeks $15 million from former managers linked to Irish ex-billionaire Sean Quinn Sr.
The Ukraina shopping mall‘s management alleged that some $15 million was illegally transferred from accounts in an asset stripping scheme implemented by Laryssa Yanez Puga, the former manager, and “her close allies.”
Management at Kyiv’s lucrative Ukraina shopping mall announced it will demand $15 million in compensation that it says was illegally transferred in 2010-2012 by Laryssa Yanez Puga, Ukraina’s former manager, and up to ten of her “close allies,” a press release said.
The Sunday Business Post published a front page article on the story on May 5. Business editor Ian Kehoe says the Quinn family have obtained a report written by the law firm Arthur Cox, which warned the government in early 2009 that the bank had advanced hundreds of millions of euro to Sean Quinn to cover his massive exposure on the bank’s share price.
The report was prepared for the Department of Finance and was released to the Quinn family as part of the discovery process in their €2.4 billion claim against the bank.
A separate report by the bank in the same year, and also obtained by the family, reveals how the bank admitted that it disguised loans to cover share losses as “working capital”.
In other news, a movie on Sean Quinn’s journey from billionaire to bankruptcy is said to be progressing.
It has been confirmed the film has gone into the early stages of production, and Monaghan’s comedian Oliver Callan will act as script consultant for the movie.
The case is back before the High Court
Evidence given to the High Court by some members of the Quinn family about assets and bank accounts was “incredible, not complete, implausible and conflicting”, the High Court has heard.
Lawyers for IBRC have said the court must now assess if adequate disclosure had been made and consider if further orders are necessary.
Shane Murphy for IBRC said evidence about huge sums withdrawn from Russian bank accounts was “completely unbelievable”.
Evidence that they had no documents to prove huge cash withdrawals were used for legal fees was “inexplicable”, he said.
Mr Murphy is making submissions for the bank in an application before the High Court concerning disclosure by members of the Quinn family about alleged asset-stripping of the International Property Group of companies.
Members of the Quinn family were cross-examined for five days in January about their disclosure of assets and bank accounts.
Mr Murphy said evidence was given that huge sums of cash withdrawn in Ireland were used for legal fees, yet no bills or receipts could be accessed.
He said the “shutters had come down” with regard to the money trail and a confusing picture had emerged about what the money was used for.
Orders could be made directing Aoife Quinn to have a laptop forensically examined to retrieve deleted emails.
He said the “policy of deletion” outlined by the Quinns illustrated that full disclosure had not been made.
A number of striking features had emerged in evidence, he said, including the fact that none of the Quinns appeared to have copies of employment contracts or evidence of job descriptions, despite receiving large sums from Russian companies.
Salaries received by some of the Quinns from IPG companies were significantly larger than the Russian employees, often tenfold, illustrating that Seán Quinn Jnr played a major managerial and controlling role and not one of middle management as he had purported, he said.
There had been a lack of disclosure about the role some of the Quinns played in IPG companies, Mr Murphy said.
Documents existed that would show a level of control and leadership by Mr Quinn Jnr, Aoife Quinn and Stephen Kelly, he said.
IBRC has alleged widespread asset-stripping of Quinn companies.
The Quinns deny full disclosure has not been made.
Counsel for the Quinns, Martin Hayden SC, said the court would have to decide what exactly the order for disclosure was.
He said they were not seeking to avoid court orders or to be technical to avoid an obligation.
However, the process of disclosure differed from discovery, he said.
Disclosure orders did not go beyond the requirement of disclosing documents in the possession of a defendant, he said.
Discovery was a much broader concept, while disclosure was narrow.
The current orders being sought by the bank amounted to it seeking an “evidentiary trail to support its argument in the main action”.
Mr Hayden said it could not be a game of trial by ambush.
IBRC’s application for further disclosure orders was entirely artificial in relation to the Quinn IPG groups as the bank had already appointed a receiver over those companies and would already have the information.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly will give his judgment at a later date.
Tuesday February 05 2013 Irish Independent
Sean Quinn Jnr
THE jailed son of businessman Sean Quinn does not know where the rents generated by assets in the family’s international property group (IPG) have gone.
Mr Quinn Jnr has told the Commercial Court that he is “110pc” sure that he does not know where the lucrative rents have gone.
“Let me be struck dead when I leave this court if I am wrong,” Mr Quinn Jnr told High Court Judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly this afternoon during cross examination by lawyers for the former Anglo Irish Bank.
Sunday Feb. 3rd Independent
Aoife Quinn has a science degree and later studied law at Blackhall Place. She worked in Quinn Insurance, as a claims handler in the ‘fast-track’ section. So shouldn’t she be familiar with the legal process that requires litigants to disclose documents to each other, Paul Gallagher wanted to know. But Aoife said she didn’t have to deal with lawyers.
She drew a €379,000 salary from Russian companies over 12 months until last year, but had no bank statements. Her contract for such a big sum was in Russian, and she signed it without having it translated or even keeping a copy.
Colette Quinn like her sisters, she said she had no statements, just a text message each time the money landed in her account. And she was “not in the habit of keeping receipts” for what she spent it on.
At one point, Mr Justice Kelly reflected back on her evidence. So she had signed a contract that she didn’t understand, received a salary of €339,000 and has no documentation as to what her task were, he said.
“So whatever work it was, it was paperless,” he asked Colette. “That’s correct,” Colette shot back with a smile.
She, too, had already disclosed all documents in her possession. Mr Justice Kelly had heard this phrase so often that at one point, he called it a “mantra” of “no documents, no documents”.
The cross-examination continues this week, when Sean Jnr and Karen Woods will take the stand.
Jan. 30th Laois Nationalist
A son in law of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn has told the Commercial Court he doesn’t have an active policy of keeping documents.
Under cross examination by lawyers for IBRC, Stephen Kelly said he had nothing to show how he spent his €260,000 salary from Russian companies in the Quinn’s property group.
IBRC’s lawyers say it is extraordinary and unbelievable that Stephen Kelly has kept a lot of commercial documents but has nothing relating to his salary.
Tuesday 29 Jan- Independent
A DAUGHTER of bankrupt tycoon Sean Quinn withdrew more than €30,000 every month from a cash machine over nearly a year to pay for legal fees, she told a court.
Ciara Quinn said she had no records or receipts of the fees being paid, as she generally handed the cash to her brother Sean Junior or sister Aoife, who then paid the lawyers
Ms Quinn told the Commercial Court she spent €339,921 – paid to her from the Quinn family’s property empire – between July 2011 and May 2012.
She said she usually withdrew the money, over the 11-month period, from a Bank of Ireland ATM in Blanchardstown, Dublin, using a Visa card.
Thursday, January 24, 2013 – 06:14 PM – Irish Examiner
A daughter of ex-billionaire Sean Quinn opened several bank accounts in Dubai after legal action was launched to stop the family asset-stripping their global property empire.
But Aoife Quinn said no money was ever lodged in the four accounts, which were opened in four different currencies – euro, US dollars, Sterling and a local currency – a year ago.
Ms Quinn told the Commercial Court she had no documents or records from the accounts as she handed them over to the family’s former legal team.
In the first day of disclosure hearings – originally expected to last two days but which have already been extended – Ms Quinn also claimed:
:: She was not sure of the amount of her six-figure salary from three Russian companies;
:: She never got email or written bank statements from her Moscow account, but only text messages confirming transactions;
:: Her mobile phone that contained those records was stolen;
:: She had no records on the 30% income tax she was paying to Russian authorities;
:: She feared people were rummaging through the Quinn family’s bins so stored away other records she thought were not important, because she did not have a shredder.
Sean Quinn – Innocent!!!
Sean Quinn said that he did not feel he should have been in prison in the first place.
He said the view was shared by his fellow prisoners: “I think 100 per cent of them felt I shouldn’t be there.
Never in my life did I steal a penny or take a penny that didn’t belong to me,” he added….he’s right of course he owes half a billion to the state now – but that’s different!
Quinn told his local radio station, Northern Sound, “If the assets under dispute are found to belong to the Irish public and that they were taken legally by Anglo Irish Bank, and the receivership of the Quinn Group and administration of the Quinn Direct was done legally and correctly, then we will apologize to the Irish public. What arrogance.
All the above appears to be standard Quinn defence –ignorance of all facts or else just totally think.
Standard Quinn Defence No.1, previous seen as “ah sure I am only a house wife”
Asked about two bonuses of about €50,000 paid to her from the companies, she said she could not recall the exact amount.
“I’m not sure of the figure,” she said.
“I’m not great with maths, especially in my head and especially under pressure.”
Standard Quinn Defence No.2 – I know I did a bad thing last year but because I was scared I destroyed all evidence & can’t do anything now.
“I believe that this was a reaction to the bank trying to take everything off us,” she said.
“That was our reaction whether it was right or not.”
Ireland has a shocking record of not punishing white collar crime but surly this shower of Gombeens should serve have to serve lengthy prison sentences.
Ciara Quinn, a daughter of bankrupt businessman Seán Quinn, has said she withdrew almost €340,000 from her Russian bank account via cash withdrawals from ATMs here in the space of a year, with most of that going to pay legal fees. She has no documents concerning those withdrawals or payments made from July 2011, she said.
Ms Quinn was also asked about an “extraordinary” series of withdrawals totalling €5,000 from her Ocean Bank account in Moscow, made via ATMs in Blanchardstown, Dublin, in less than 20 minutes on May 25th, 2012.
Shane Murphy SC, for Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), asked about the purpose of withdrawals of €500 each at 16.08pm, 16.10pm and 16.11pm; of €600 each at 16.18pm and 16.19pm; €1,500 at 16.24pm; and €800 at 16.27pm.
Hugh Hartnett SC, for the Quinns, objected such questions strayed into issues to be addressed in the full hearing of the legal action by IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, against various Quinn family members and others alleging stripping of assets from the Quinns’ International Property Group (IPG).
As a mother of three aware the bank had alleged contempt against her, and that contempt can lead to jail, Ms Quinn said she was concerned about answering some questions.
Mr Murphy yesterday cross-examined Ciara and Brenda Quinn about claims they and other Quinn family members have not fully disclosed all information relating to their assets, accounts and involvement with companies in IPG. Colette Quinn’s cross-examination began late yesterday and continues today.
The Quinns insist they have disclosed all relevant documents available. The bank sought cross-examination before the full hearing of its “conspiracy” action.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday granted an application by Paul Anthony McDermott, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, to stay the full hearing of that action insofar as it touches on issues to be addressed in forthcoming criminal proceedings against former Anglo chairman Seán FitzPatrick and two former senior executives of the bank. Those issues included alleges breaches of Section 60 of the Companies Act, which makes it unlawful for a financial institution to lend money to buy its shares.
Various preliminary matters in the conspiracy case, including cross-examination of the Quinns, may continue in the interim.
All five children of fallen Irish billionaire Sean Quinn, who was once Ireland’s richest man, and three of their spouses will reportedly face cross-examination about their assets in the Irish High Court this week.
According to the Belfast Telegraph the Fermanagh businessman’s sons-in-law Stephen Kelly and Niall McPartland, as well as Karen Woods — the wife of Sean Quinn, Jnr — will be questioned about missing millions in rent money allegedly generated through the family’s international property group (IPG) as well as the significant salaries they received from Russian companies.
The Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), the now state owned body that was formerly Anglo Irish Bank, froze the Quinns‘ accounts last July and disputed claims that they have provided full disclosure of their accounts and assets.
The bank also reportedly wants documents relating to control of companies in IPG, as well as assets, bank accounts and documents relating to salaries from Russian IPG companies in 2011 and 2012.
Last summer, Quinn’s daughter Aoife said their family did not have a ‘pot of gold’ hidden away, even though members of the family had drawn down almost $4 million in salaries from a Russian company since 2011
Jailed billionaire Sean Quinn is studying law and answering dozens of letters as he spends time behind bars.
The paper also reports that Quinn is studying law ahead of his return to the courts in the New Year.
The 66-year-old Quinn, currently serving a nine week sentence, has concentrated on files connected to his ongoing court battles with the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.
An insider told the paper: “Because of his age and a heart condition, Quinn does not have to get involved in a lot of the work that other inmates are doing.
“He is keeping his head down and spends a lot of time going through all the correspondence he is receiving.
“He has received many letters of support, but he also receives a lot of post in connection with his legal matters.”
Quinn is also taking advantage of the gym facilities on offer in Mountjoy.
The source added: “He hits the treadmill and bikes every day.”
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Doing the rounds at the minute….
(Q) What is Sean Quinn’s favorite pub?
(A) Break for the border.
eamonncork – November 4, 2012
Look, Quinn had to be taken to court in 2005 to make him grant a 39 hour working week and proper sick pay and overtime to workers in Quinn Cement. The workers were represented by SIPTU because they were afraid to reveal their identities for fear of victimisation. That’s who Sean Quinn is, that’s what he stands for and always stood for, the right of the local big man to do what he wants.
The main movers in the CIC are also representatives of this gombeen man tendency, they support Quinn for he same reason that Michael Lowry’s supporters support him, a combination of local loyalty and sycophancy. I don’t imagine those Cement workers are out marching for him so his backers are indeed ‘in ways removed from the classic working class.’
Recently a large number of people marched in Skibbereen to protest the reduction of the local ambulance service to a skeleton level. People march about issues like this all the time in Rural Ireland.
I’d have to say that the contortions engaged in by apparently sane people to try and extend some understanding to Quinn and his supporters are the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever read on the CLR, ‘it’s abour profit redistribution’ ‘socialists should support him,’ ‘it’s about bank corruption.’
In the name of Jesus, lads, if someone like Sean Quinn isn’t antithetical to everything ye stand for, who are you left with? Kevin Myers?
Under the deal, the investment arm of the Alfa Group, A1, will keep up to $200 million (€155 million) of property formerly owned by the family of Seán Quinn and now held by other Russian interests and offshore firms, in return for helping to recover property.
The move by the IBRC comes as the former billionaire, Seán Quinn (66), is starting a nine-week sentence in Mountjoy Jail for contempt of court. It was approved by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and is linked to the bank’s view that such a deal is the only option left open to it given the stance being adopted by the Quinn family.
IBRC has been trying for more than a year to seize an international property group worth up to $500 million and over which it says it has legal security linked to loans to the Quinns. The family has told the High Court that it set in train a scheme to put the assets beyond the bank’s reach but that it is now no longer in control of the asset-stripping scheme and cannot retrieve the assets. The bank says it does not believe the family.
Mr Quinn was jailed yesterday for nine weeks by Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne as punishment for an “outrageous” contempt of court in relation to persisting with the asset-stripping after being ordered last year to desist. She referred to Mr Quinn’s statement in an affidavit that his dispute with IBRC had “negatively consumed” his life and that of his family. “In my view, he has only himself to blame.”
She said Mr Quinn’s contempt was a serious one and that it was important that court orders were complied with and the integrity of the court system was “not set at naught”.
The family is disputing the legality of the security, which, it claims, is linked to loans issued by Anglo as part of an effort to shore up its share price. Its claim has not yet been heard by the courts.
However, members of the family have admitted they initiated a scheme to put the secured assets beyond the reach of the bank.
Mr Quinn will be moved today to the semi-open training unit in Mountjoy, having spent last night in the committal unit. His son, Seán jnr, has already served a three-month sentence for contempt in Mountjoy.
In an extraordinary day in the High Court Mr Quinn was sentenced, but offered the opportunity to have the sentence stayed pending an appeal. The court rose to allow him consult with his legal team, which he did before going to the bar in the Four Courts to drink a pint in the company of supporters.
When he returned to court it was announced that he wanted to start his sentence forthwith. When he knew a decision had been made, he liked to get on with it, he told reporters, before being led away by a uniformed garda.
The former billionaire, who is now a bankrupt, looked tearful after a female supporter gave him a hug as he was exiting the courtroom.
In July IBRC succeeded in having an administrator appointed to a valuable property in Moscow, but last month that gain was reversed by the Russian courts.
The bank has now decided to do a deal with one of the largest privately owned conglomerates in Russia, the Alfa Group, as it believes its chances of recovering valuable property in Russia and the Ukraine are poor without the involvement of an experienced local partner.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny would not comment directly on the sentencing of Mr Quinn, though he said it behoved every citizen to co-operate with bank inquiries. The North’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he couldn’t comment on a court the case “other than to say that I think that the banks have an awful lot to answer for”.
Mr Quinn has decided to begin the term imposed on him now despite the fact he is to appeal to the Supreme Court against findings he acted in outrageous contempt of court orders, his lawyer said.
Having been given time to consider the matter, Eugene Grant QC, for Mr Quinn, said his client wanted to begin his jail term now as, while he was maintaining his appeal, he was also conscious of the Supreme Court’s recent decision dismissing his son’s finding against a three month sentence for contempt.
Counsel said Mr Quinn was a 66-year-old grandfather and was anxious to attend a grandchild’s christening on December 22nd next but was not eligible for remission as this was a sentence for contempt. He asked that the court agree to release him for that event.
Miss Justice Elizabeth Dunne said an application for compassionate release would have to be made to the prison authorities.
Miss Justice Dunne earlier said Mr Quinn’s contempt was so serious that she could come to no other conclusion that it mandated a term of imprisonment.
She could not ignore the extent and degree of contempt by Mr Quinn and, taking all various matters into account, including his health problems, she would impose a nine-week term.
While Mr Quinn had spoken about how the court proceedings had negatively consumed his life and that of his family, she said: “In my view, he has only himself to blame.”
It was not disputed significant assets had been put beyond the reach of IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank, and the position of the Quinn defendants appeared to be they were so successful in that regard, they themselves could not retrieve the assets, the judge said. However, she did not have to decide that issue now.
The situation was IBRC claimed it was owed €2.8 billion by the Quinns and, while there was dispute about that, it was accepted €455 million was owed.
The judge had said she was imposing a nine-week term but the issue of whether there would be a serious dispute about that, it was accepted the Quinns owed €455 million to the bank, she said. Putting assets beyond the reach of the bank in defiance of the court’s orders was, as she had previously found, “nothing short of outrageous”.
It was important to ensure court orders were complied with and the integrity of the court system was not set at naught by “an egregious breach of court orders”.
A stay on the nine-week term pending an appeal against the findings of contempt was adjourned earlier today after Mr Quinn’s lawyer said he wanted time to consider whether to go to jail immediately or proceed with the appeal.
Shane Murphy SC, for IBRC, had said it would agree to a stay provided Mr Quinn’s lawyers progressed any appeal urgently.
However, at 12.50 today, Mr Grant said his client would begin his term now while maintaining the appeal.
In her decision today, the judge referred to her previous findings of contempt against Mr Quinn and her rejection of his evidence in the contempt hearing as not credible, evasive and uncooperative. She had also found he had given his imprimatur to the asset-stripping scheme.
She stressed the only issue she was dealing with today was the punitive aspect of the case as coercive matters have been adjourned. She was dealing with punitive issues arising from past non-compliance with court orders.
The judge delivered her ruling in a courtroom packed with lawyers, journalists and supporters of Mr Quinn. Mr Quinn’s son Sean and sons in law Niall McPartland and Stephen Kelly were also in court.
IBRC was represented in court today by its chief executive Mike Aynsley and senior executive Richard Woodhouse.
Mr Quinn was jailed arising from the judge’s findings last June that acted in contempt of court orders made in June and July 2011 restraining stripping of assets valued up to US$430 million from companies in the IPG.
Mr Quinn told reporters following the sentence that he just wanted to get on with the sentence. He intends to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.