It’s been said that Quinn took a punt and just like the fellow who backed the losing horse at Cheltenham you can’t get your money back heading for the gate.
In horse racing parlance the Horse Trainer (Anglo Senior Management) knew that the Horse (Anglo) was utterly useless (insolvent) but nevertheless peddled the lie (falsifying Anglo accounts) that all was well to continue flogging it and for the owner (Quinn/shareholders in Anglo) to keep on punting. This is where the analogy with racing ends as The Turf Club would have, as regulator for horse racing, quickly curtailed the carry on.
This is a touch simplistic but gets point and is not intended to underplay the enormous scale and ramifications for our country arising out of the Anglo debacle.
It’s well established by now that Anglo was an out of control reckless lender growing massively in the last decade fuelling the herd mentality that caused our banks, driven by cheap and plentiful foreign sourced funds, to run amok.
Amid all the frenzy the regulator and the central bank were idling if not asleep on the job with a whiff of political input.
When the realization dawned of the scale of problem, it would appear that the Regulator regime along with Anglo moved to self-preservation mode as their combination of wanton incompetence and recklessness was about to be exposed as the root cause of the wreaked banking system and in turn the massive costs to be borne by the Irish taxpayer for endless years ahead in keeping the show on the road.
In a desperate salvage move, Anglo organized their own funds to be routed to the ‘Maple 10’ group of developers and the Quinn Group to ultimately prop up its share price.
This appears an unlawful act evidenced by charges specifically on this point brought against Anglo executives in late July and there are suggestions that the Regulator was in the loop.
In respect of the €2.35bn money lent as part of this exercise to the Quinn Group the shares of the business were taken by Anglo as security, by whatever questionable means and timeframe, and this security Anglo called in when appointing share receivers and taking control of Quinn Group in April 2011.
If the funds were illegally given by Anglo as alleged and this is proven in the courts then the only obvious remedy is reversion of the business to its owners.
The Quinn plan raised in early 2011 envisaged the workout over a period of seven years repayment of what was owed. The business would be conducted by its existing highly regarded and successful management team with Sean Quinn standing aside. Is this any different from what NAMA are doing in that, subject to developer cooperation, they are retaining the developers who know the business and are considerably less expensive that bank receiver directed management which is what Quinn has been landed with and importantly NAMA is providing funding for these workouts in interest of the optimum recovery for the taxpayer.
There is a clear suspicion that Anglo are attempting to thwart efforts to allow this core court case on the €2.35bn to proceed by all manner of actions as part of a cover-up by them and their cohorts in the overseeing institutions. In this light it seems reasonable for the Quinns to assert that they will be vindicated should this case get to court.
Sean Quinn has held up his hands in respect of the Insurance company debacle but it must be seen in the context of share buying in Anglo going awry and impinging on its reserves which can’t be condoned and on selling cover on solicitor professional indemnity in the UK which proved disastrous.
I am very uncomfortable at hearing time and time again from Anglo and their self serving public interest chairman about recovering assets in the name of the taxpayer given the negligent behavior of Anglo and the Regulatory arms of the State. For all our sakes the hope is that the assets held abroad can be retrieved and of course the courts must be respected on the facts they must adjudicate on.
What would very much in the interests of the taxpayer and not just the Quinns is to allow the key €2.35bn court case to proceed forthwith. This will unearth the facts about who was responsible for bringing this country to its knees and would serve to expose the real culprits which it seems at this stage our Oireachtas are powerless to enquire into or else they would be complete by now.
This would also serve to dispel the notion that Sean Quinn was responsible for toppling Anglo. The ongoing court battles we are seeing played out are a smokescreen to deflect attention from zoning in on the core case.
There has been a lot of recent talk about fugitives and people on the run but if we are to be really honest the real fugitive on the loose is David Drumm. He continues to defy our authorities in refusing to return from the US for questioning which tells its own story unlike his colleagues, who to give them some credit, have stood to face the music.
Surely the €2.35bn case will open up an avenue to have him and others charged and allow the hard pressed people of the country and the Quinn’s to get some justice for how badly they have been wronged.
We need our politicians to see the importance of this as natives are getting restless. They could also make a stride to do something radical in bringing in a law to force banks to make write-downs for those caught particularly in the 2003-2008 negative equity trap triggered by banker reckless behavior.
Funds have gone into the banks for this purpose – maybe it should have been routed direct to the people – and along with the foreign owned banks provisions have been made.
It would be in the interest of the home-owner who has taken a fair degree of pain from austerity measures but has shown great resilience and for the banks themselves so they can return to their core business of lending for this to happen speedily as the personal insolvency legislation looks like it will get bogged down and hijacked by vested parties.
The people of Ireland have faced their responsibilities and a resolution here is key as accepted by Enda Kenny to get domestic demand moving by giving people hope. Just like in the Quinn core court case and what it would unravel sometimes the best solutions are the obvious ones.
On a final point it would be helpful if Fintan O’Toole and some of the media who regularly indulges him could refrain from their incredulous tones when discussing the Quinn issue and recognize where the fault lies in the big picture here which is slowly beginning to emerge in a similar vein to the behavior of the ECB in pressurizing the late Brian Lenihan in 2010.
Also they could afford due respect to the Quinns and what they have brought to the North West area of our country by keeping numerous families from the emigration route and to the Quinn supporters, regardless of whether they are GAA people, political party affiliates, church preachers or whatever, which is entirely irrelevant in any event.
A mark of Sean Quinn was evident when he spoke at a recent rally, despite the pressure of his financial woes, in giving fulsome praise to all his former employees over the past 30 odd years and to his customers which reached 1million at peak.