Irish Search for Billionaire’s Assets Leads to Russia
Источник: The New York Times
MOSCOW — The Irish Bank Resolution Company is working with one of Russia’s largest banks to help find and seize assets in the former Soviet Union that belong to Sean Quinn, a bankrupt Irish billionaire who was once Ireland’s richest man.
Sean Quinn, headed to court in 2012, was once Ireland’s richest man. Now a search is on for his assets in Ukraine and Russia.
The government-owned Irish bank is looking to seize a dozen properties in Russia and Ukraine, Ireland’s ambassador to Russia, Philip McDonagh, said at a news conference in Moscow on Wednesday. He characterized the process as a “complex and demanding challenge.”
Mr. McDonagh said the Alfa Group, controlled by the Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman and other wealthy Russians, would help in the effort. The business conglomerate is known to be litigious and well connected in Russia’s court system. The ambassador said the company would be “successful in asserting the claims over the properties in question for the benefit of the Irish state.”
The Irish bank has teamed with the asset recovery branch of Alfa Bank called A1. On Wednesday, Dmitry Vozianov, the acting director of A1, said, “If we say we’re going to return the assets, then there is no doubt that we will get them.”
Mr. Quinn, 65, is under investigation for avoiding payment of 2.8 billion euros, or $3.5 billion, in loans he owes to the Irish Bank Resolution Company, formerly the Anglo Irish Bank, which seized the Quinn Group Conglomerate in 2011.
His downfall, brought on by a ruinous investments amid the global financial crisis, came to personify the Irish economic collapse. Mr. Quinn declared bankruptcy and he, his son, and a nephew were jailed for contempt of court for hiding assets from the bank.
The international search for Mr. Quinn’s real estate portfolio has led to Russia. Auditors say Mr. Quinn hid his investments here in a murky network of shell companies and offshore zones.
Representatives for A1 and the Irish bank, also known as I.B.R.C., said they were seeking to recoup as much as $500 million by seizing Mr. Quinn’s Russian and Ukrainian investments. The properties include a shopping mall and office tower in Moscow; a supermarket in the Russian regional capital of Yekaterinburg; an industrial-park in Kazan, Russia; land in provincial cities; and a shopping mall in Kiev, Ukraine.
A1’s help has not come inexpensively. Company directors said on Wednesday that they would receive 25 and 30 percent of the value of any assets recovered under the agreement.
A representative for I.B.R.C. said there had been no open tender for enlisting the Russian bank, but said it had refused several other “unsolicited offers” before choosing A1. Any seized assets will be sold in open auctions, he said. Alfa Bank is known for its aggressive litigation with BP and other Western businesses in Russia. Alfa’s suit against BP in 2011, for example, kept the British oil giant from joining a joint venture to explore the Arctic Ocean with Rosneft, the state oil company.
Telenor, a Norwegian telecommunications giant that has for years been in court with an Alfa subsidiary, has accused Alfa of undermining the rule of law in Russia by openly pursuing tactics such as using front men to file lawsuits. Other Western companies have made similar complaints.
In 2007, the Alfa Group won a $1.7 billion ruling against Telenor that set off alarms among Western companies doing business in Russia.