Ireland’s one-time richest man has gone bust after a series of secret stock market gambles.
Sean Quinn, an entrepreneur who started with a £100 loan and amassed a fortune of £3.7bn, declared himself bankrupt yesterday amid wrangling over the extent of his debts and a bitter row over who was responsible.
He says he owes about €194m (£166m) to the bank, but the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), the rebranded version of the former Anglo-Irish Bank, maintains he and his family owe the Irish state €2.9bn.
Mr Quinn’s bankruptcy declaration in the High Court in Belfast means he could be free of his debts in a year. Had he taken the same move in the Republic, he would be out of business for 12 years. The IBRC issued a statement yesterday disputing that Mr Quinn, pictured, is resident in Northern Ireland and claimed the family live in Co Cavan, on the southern side of the border. The bank is questioning the validity of the bankruptcy declaration. Mr Quinn’s downfall came after he invested in Anglo-Irish shortly before the share price slumped as the economy faltered. He believes he could have paid off the debt and recovered had Anglo not taken control of the Quinn Group of companies. Anglo is under investigation by the fraud squad and a corporate watchdog in Ireland. Mr Quinn said: “I’ve done absolutely everything in my power to avoid taking this drastic decision. The vast majority of debt that Anglo maintains is owed is strenuously disputed.”