Addressing the transfer of millions of assets to family members after losing his fortune when Anglo Irish Bank shares collapsed, Sean Quinn said it wasn’t originally his idea, but added: “I’m not trying to help anyone to blame.”
he former “border billionaire” spoke of in the second episode Quinn countrywhich aired Tuesday night and focused on the collapse of the Anglo Irish bank in which Quinn had invested heavily and which ultimately led to his downfall.
The business tycoon tied his fortune and that of his companies to the fate of the bank and made big bets on the bank’s share price when it fell into disaster.
The family, which includes Quinn’s five children Aoife, Brenda, Ciara, Colette and Sean Junior, lost €3.2 billion as a result.
Sean Quinn Snr was released from Mountjoy Prison in 2013 after serving a nine-week sentence for contempt of court.
In 2012, Sean Quinn Jnr and his cousin Peter Quinn were also sentenced to three months in prison for contempt after trying to hide a €500 million property portfolio from the former Anglo Irish Bank.
At the time, Judge Elizabeth Dunne ruled that the three Quinns “deliberately defied and misled the courts” by moving family fortunes as far away as Ukraine, Russia and Belize.
On Tuesday night’s episode, Mr Quinn addressed the shifting of assets.
“It was decided on the spot that we would try to secure the assets to which they had not lent any money. We didn’t touch anything they borrowed money for, now it was a bad decision but we went for it.
“It wasn’t my idea, it wasn’t that I wouldn’t do it, I would do it, but I hadn’t thought about moving the assets that they hadn’t funded. Other people who were smarter than me thought about it and I said it was a good idea. So I supported it, I try not to blame anyone.
“But people were on planes that night trying to get individuals to agree that we could move assets to other names to protect them.”
The three-part documentary, made up of three hour-and-a-half episodes, consists of fresh interviews with Quinn and his wife Patricia, as well as contributions from commentators and former IBRC Chairman and Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes.
“Other people in the office would have known we shouldn’t have done it, I suppose it just kind of happened and maybe again our system was a bit weak and maybe we didn’t have enough people just looking after this thing , and maybe I was too dominant a factor in that, and I suppose when I asked for it, it was done,” Mr Quinn said.
“I probably shouldn’t have bought so many CFDs [contracts for difference – the complex financial instrument that led Quinn to lose much of his fortune and to the the downfall of Anglo]I should have talked to them maybe 6 or 12 months before I bought so many CFDs.”
Mr Quinn said it was “wrong” of him to buy more shares in the bank.
“I shouldn’t have done that,” he said.
“There was no excuse for that, we shouldn’t have bought any more shares. When I went home I was confident that this bank will be successful and that percentage will recover.
“The kids have been very good to us, hopefully they would say we’ve been good to them, but we get along well, we have a lot of arguments. I suppose they thought they were multi-millionaires, if not more, and then their father told them everything.
“I was ambitious and I was hungry and I like to be successful and of course everyone likes to win. Maybe we grew too fast and maybe took too many risks as it turned out, and maybe I was too close to decision-making the entire time.”
Quinn said it was “wrong” of him to take money from his insurance business to fund losses elsewhere in his Quinn Group empire.
“I shouldn’t have done that, that was wrong, I completely kept my hands off it. There’s no excuse, I shouldn’t have touched a dime in a regulated company, I shouldn’t have done that,” he said.
“It was just the whole banking world that collapsed. I’ve made a lot of good decisions in my 40+ years in the business, but this was one bad and one fatal.
“Any little hiccups that we had were always ironed out over a period of six to 12 months and I didn’t see it any differently, I didn’t see that crash of 2007 and 2009, I didn’t see it any differently.
“It never wrongly occurred to us that anyone would take these draconian measures to try to break up the Quinn Group, take it away and destroy it and take it out of my control.”
Workers and businesses affected by the Quinn Group’s restructuring rallied outside the Dáil in 2011 to present a petition signed by over 90,000 people.
The petition contained a proposal, claimed by the protesters, to save jobs and protect the Quinn Group companies that “underpinned the economy and social fabric of the border areas”.
Mr Quinn said: “It really never occurred to us that they would take over the Quinn group, it never occurred to us. It never occurred to me. We thought it was going to be a good day for us.”
The third and last part of Quinn country will continue on Wednesday evening at 21.35 on RTÉ One and on RTÉ Player.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/they-thought-they-were-multi-millionaires-and-then-their-father-gave-it-all-away-latest-from-rtes-explosive-sean-quinn-documentary-42184166.html ‘They thought they were multi-millionaires and then their dad spilled it all’ – the latest from RTÉ’s explosive Sean Quinn documentary