greek tragedy in the criminal court... a cavan man's odyssey

Catherine Fegan
February 2014
Daily Mail;2/11/2014, p9
aLONE clap broke out from the last row of benches. As heads turned in search of the source, Seán Quinn, who had just finished giving evidence, stood down from the witness box. He moved quickly, navigating his way through the assault course of outstretched hands that lined his route, contentedly basking in the congratulatory glory as he greeted each one. Some were former employees; others were from Cavan, the rest were simply Quinn supporters. 'Thank you, thank you,' he whispered to each one. Moments before, a wistful Mr Quinn had vividly recalled his history with Anglo Irish Bank. The businessman told the court he had always admired the bank's business model. Enamoured by this, and the profiles of some of the personnel at its helm, he had began to invest in the bank through contracts for difference. 'It was a marvellous institution,' he began, gesturing enthusiastically with his hands. The bank was on the up, he explained, and he wanted to get in on the action. When the holding he had acquired in the bank became too great, the bank had moved to correct the situation, asking him to reduce his position Sure enough, the relationship soon soured. 'It was all a sham,' he despaired at one point. 'I was a fool to believe them,' he declared at another. Over and over, he blamed the bank. It was shortly after 10.30am when the bankrupt billionaire settled into the witness box, taking a large gulp of water before he started to give his version of events. Dressed in a smart navy suit, white shirt and yellow tie, he listened contently as Brendan Grehan SC took him back to the glory days of the Quinn empire. As the court heard of the Seán Quinn of old, the father of five relaxed in his seat, his face flushed with pride. 'You were reported as being the richest man in Ireland,' said Brendan Grehan. 'I read that,' he acknowledged, grinning wryly. 'And the 12th richest man in the UK and Ireland,' continued Mr Grehan. 'I didn't know that,' he chuckled. Moreover, said the barrister, at the time he invested in the bank, Forbes ranked him as one of the 200 richest people in the world. 'How times can change,' said a melancholic Mr Quinn. By afternoon, the entire standing area at the back of court number 19 was full. The assembled crowd, most of whom had come from Cavan, watched as Mr Quinn delivered his testimony in his own unique manner. The jury listened with rapt attention as he explained how his admiration for the bank descended into fury. 'I wasn't best pleased,' he said, recalling David Drumm's decision to sell the shares. 'I wasn't very happy at all.' Going by Mr Quinn's demeanour in the witness box, 'unhappy' may have been an understatement. Placing his hand on his hip as he addressed Mr Grehan, he later remarked: 'You said to me earlier I was confused. Maybe you are confused now.' On the left hand side of the room, his daughter Brenda recoiled in her seat. In front of her, Seán Quinn Jr grinned. iN the public gallery, the roars of laughter that followed were swiftly silenced by the harsh words of Judge Nolan. 'You are not allowed to react,' he scolded. 'Listen to the evidence but don't react.' As the afternoon wore on, the Quinn version of events played out like a Greek tragedy. 'I was a fool,' he conceded, putting his hands up in the air. However, the admissions of blame were few and far between. Time and time again, the finger was pointed back to Anglo. 'Anglo knew it was in trouble in 2007,' he claimed. 'If I had known, I'd never have bought a single share in it.' Struggling to contain his emotions, the seething continued when Mr Grehan put it to him that he had Anglo 'over a barrel'. 'Anglo had me over a huge barrel,' he retorted. It was this defiant tone that had been the ...


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