Former Irish billionaire Sean Quinn has been made bankrupt in Dublin days after his bankruptcy in the UK was annulled by a Belfast court.
Quinn’s ill-fated investment in Anglo Irish Bank just before the lender was nationalised in 2009, and the enormous debts he owes the bank, resulted in Quinn declaring himself bankrupt to a court in Belfast last November. In the UK a person declared bankrupt can discharge their debts after one year and then start a business anew but in Dublin this process takes up to 12 years. Anglo successfully challenged Mr Quinn’s bankruptcy declaration in Belfast, arguing his main centre of interest was in Ireland where he lives.
The 65-year old was not at the case in Dublin’s High Court but later accused the former Anglo Irish Bank, now the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, of pursuing a vendetta against him. “Anglo achieved their goal of ensuring I will never create another job,” said Quinn.
Anglo says the tycoon owes more than EUR2bn although Mr Quinn disputes that figure but accepts that he owes around EUR194m for property loans that he cannot repay. But the rest of the alleged debt, which relates to derivative products called Contracts for Difference (CFDs) used to bet on the price of bank shares, is disputed. The Quinn family are currently suing Anglo, claiming loans related to the CFDs were tainted with “illegality.”
In 2008, Mr Quinn was ranked Ireland’s richest man by Forbes magazine with a fortune estimated at US$6bn. Leaving school at 14 to work on his father’s farm, in 1973, he founded a quarry business with a GBP100 loan and then went onto build up his huge wealth through various companies, including businesses in the construction, hotel, glass and insurance sectors.
Earlier last year Mr Quinn, was stripped control of his business empire, the Quinn Group, which includes the Quinn Cement operations. These encompass production facilities with a combined capacity of 1.85Mta, located in Derrylin, County Fermanagh (Northern Ireland) and Ballyconnell, Co Cavan (Ireland), which provide cement to the Irish and UK markets.
The announcement of Quinn’s bankruptcy comes against a backdrop of falling Irish cement volumes due to the collapse of the domestic construction sector over the past few years. Although recent figures show that activity at domestic construction firms fell only marginally in December and new orders rose, suggesting some stabilisation of the sector. The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers' Index – a seasonally adjusted index designed to track changes in total construction activity – rose to 49.9 in December from 47.7, meaning there was only a negligible reduction in activity. "The latest reading was the highest since May 2007. Although a number of firms reported that business conditions remained fragile, others indicated that new order growth had acted to boost activity,'' the bank reported.