Sean Quinn will be discharged from bankruptcy next Friday, wiping out the €2.1 billion debt he owes to Anglo-Irish Bank, otherwise known as the Irish taxpayer, but the good news doesn’t stop there.
Not only is he free of his debt, but Sean is back behind a desk at the Derrylin plant where he used to direct his business empire, and that’s thanks to the generosity of his friends and supporters. Sadly and unfortunately, when the bank took over the business and changed its name to Aventa, there was a series of criminal attacks on the premises and on people managing the operation, by persons unknown. It was a good thing that former Quinn executives got together and bought back some of the business, ending the criminal activity and providing Sean himself with an income, however meagre compared to his former wealth. He’s back as a consultant, on an undisclosed salary, and free of the crippling burden he formerly carried: two billion euros of debt to Anglo-Irish Bank, on top of the €2.34 billion his family are currently disputing in the courts. Apparently, they were given the loans unlawfully and they don’t see why they should have to pay the money back.
That’s correct. You heard it right. They took out the loans, but they don’t think they should have to pay them back, because the bank was wrong to give them the money.
Sean’s burden will now be carried instead by the general public, to the tune of a little under €2,000 per household, and when you think about it, that’s not such a huge amount of money. It’s just the price of your car insurance and maybe your electricity bills for a year.
Sean, however, isn’t getting off scot-free. No indeed. The official assigned to oversee his bankruptcy has extracted a major concession, forcing Sean to pay €10,000 a year for a full two years out of whatever earnings he makes in his job as a consultant with his former company.
That’s twenty grand, not a sum to be sniffed at. It saves each household in the country about €1.70 out of the €2,000 they’ll be paying. The price of a coffee in a homeless shelter, maybe. Again, not to be sniffed at.
That’s a full 0.000001% of what he originally owed.
Of course, it’s important to remember that Sean Quinn isn’t solely responsible for the burden placed on Irish families, and I can guarantee you that he’s a much nicer man than Roman Abramovich. I met Sean once, and found him an affable sort of chap who bought his round and had few airs and graces about him. Abramovich isn’t nearly as amiable, but he was also paid a large wedge of cash as a bondholder in Anglo after he bought the bonds for half nothing but got paid full face value, for no obvious reason. Abramovich and an entire school of sharks make up the total of €34 billion that Ireland put into two banks: Anglo and of course Irish Nationwide, otherwise known as Fingleton’s Folly.
Today we hear that the government hopes to get back some of its €20 billion investment in AIB by selling its 99.8% holding in the bank, which is another way of saying that the government has given up hope of ever getting help from Europe for bailing out the three functioning banks, AIB, TSB and Bank of Ireland.
Wait a minute, do I hear you saying? Didn’t they bail out Anglo and Irish Nationwide too?
Well, no, actually. They didn’t. Those banks are kaput. They’re gone, they’re over and they have no chance whatever of returning. The money pumped into those two institutions bailed out nobody. All it did was enrich the vulture capitalists who bought bonds at a heavy discount after they had been dumped by the original investors who recognised that a deal had gone sour, shrugged their shoulders and walked away.
So we’ll never see a penny of that €34 billion, ever again.
That comes to about 17 years of car insurance and electricity bills per household, gone for good.
Gone to pay for Chelsea strikers and yachts in the Adriatic, so at least it wasn’t wasted.