Quinn country | 

Sean Quinn says he has ‘no excuses’ as he details business collapse in explosive RTE documentary

Speaking on the second part of the RTE special, Mr Quinn addressed the controversial decisions he made as his business empire collapsed

Seoirse MulgrewIndependent.ie

Sean Quinn addressed the moving of millions in assets to family members after he lost his fortune when Anglo Irish Bank shares collapsed, saying it wasn’t originally his idea, but adding: “I’m not trying to blame anybody.”

The former “border billionaire” was speaking in the second instalment of Quinn Country, which aired on Tuesday night and focused on the collapse of the Anglo Irish Bank, in which Quinn had heavily invested and ultimately led to his downfall.

The business tycoon tied his fortune and that of his businesses to the fate of the bank, making big bets on the bank’s share price as it tumbled to disaster.

The family, including Quinn's five children, Aoife, Brenda, Ciara, Colette and Sean Junior, lost €3.2bn as a result.

Sean Quinn Snr was released from Mountjoy Prison in 2013 after completing 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 jail for contempt after trying to hide a €500m property portfolio from the former Anglo Irish Bank.

At the time, Judge Elizabeth Dunne ruled that the three Quinns “consciously defied and misled” the courts as they shifted family assets as far afield as Ukraine, Russia and Belize.

Speaking on Tuesday night’s episode Mr Quinn addressed the moving of assets.

“There was a decision made there and then that we would try and secure the assets that they hadn’t loaned money to.

"We didn’t touch anything they had loaned money to, now it was a bad decision but that’s what we decided.

“It wasn't my idea, it wasn’t that I wouldn’t do it, I would do it, but I hadn’t thought of moving the assets that they hadn’t financed.

!Other people that were smarter than I, they thought of it, and I said that’s a good idea. So, I supported it, I’m not trying to blame anybody.

“But people were on airplanes that evening trying to agree individuals we could move assets into different names to keep them safe.”

The three-part documentary, consisting of three hour-and-a-half-long 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 been doing it,

"I suppose it just sort of happened and again maybe our system was a bit weak and maybe we didn’t have enough people just looking over this thing and maybe I was too dominant a factor in this and I suppose when I asked this to be done, 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 went and had a talk with them maybe six months or 12 months earlier 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. I was confident going home that yes, this bank’s going to be successful, and this share is going to recover.

Sean Quinn. Photo: Gerry Mooney

“The children have been very good to us, hopefully they would say that we’ve been good to them, but we get on well, we’ve plenty of rows. I suppose they had thought they were multi-millionaires, if not more, and then their father gave it all away on them.

“I was ambitious, and I was hungry, and I like to be successful and of course everyone likes winning. Maybe we were growing too fast and maybe taking too much risks as it turned out, and maybe I was too close to the decision making at all times.”

Quinn said it was “wrong” of him to take money out of his insurance business to fund losses elsewhere in his Quinn Group empire.

“I shouldn’t have done that, that was wrong, I put my hands up completely on that. There’s no excuse, I shouldn’t have touched a penny in a regulated entity, I shouldn’t have done that,” he said.

“It was just the whole banking world collapsed. I made an awful lot of good decisions in my 40-odd years in business but that was one bad one and one fatal one.

“Any wee hiccups we had were always ironed out over a six- to- 12-month period and I didn’t see it any different than that, I didn’t see this crash of 2007 and 2009, I didn’t see it any different.

“It never occurred to us, wrongly, that anybody was going to take this draconian action 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 restructuring of the Quinn Group gathered outside the Dáil in 2011 to present a petition signed by over 90,000 people.

The petition contained a proposal the protesters maintained would save jobs and protect the Quinn Group businesses, which "underpinned the economies and social fabric of the Border areas".

Mr Quinn said: “It genuinely never dawned on us that they were going to take the Quinn Group, that never dawned on us. It never crossed my mind. We thought it was going to be a good day for us.”

The third and final part of Quinn Country continues on Wednesday night on RTÉ One at 9.35pm and on the RTÉ Player.

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