The Irish Bank Resolution Company (IBRC) is reportedly working alongside one of Russia's largest banks to uncover and seize assets in the former Soviet Union that belong to Sean Quinn, the bankrupt Irish billionaire who was once Ireland’s richest man.
The Irish government-owned bank wants to seize a dozen properties in Russia and Ukraine, Ireland’s ambassador to Russia Philip McDonagh told the New York Times this week.
Ambassador McDonagh told a news conference in Moscow on Wednesday that the process of seizing the assets is a 'complex and demanding challenge.' McDonagh added that the Alfa Group, which is controlled by the Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman and other wealthy Russians, is helping in the effort.
The business conglomerate Fridman is reportedly well connected in Russia’s court system. McDonagh said he believed the company would be 'successful in asserting the claims over the properties in question for the benefit of the Irish state.'
It's understood the IBRC has teamed up with the asset recovery branch of Alfa Bank called A1. On Wednesday, Dmitry Vozianov, the acting director of A1, told the Times: 'If we say we’re going to return the assets, then there is no doubt that we will get them.'
Quinn, 65, is under investigation for avoiding payment $3.5 billion in loans he owes to the IBRC, formerly the Anglo Irish Bank, which seized the Quinn Group Conglomerate in 2011.
Quinn quickly declared bankruptcy at the time and he, his son, and a nephew were jailed for contempt of court for hiding assets from the bank.
The hunt for Quinn’s real estate portfolio led investigators to Russia. Auditors say Quinn hid his investments there in a murky network of shell companies and offshore zones.
Representatives for A1 and the IBRC said they were seeking to recoup as much as $500 million by seizing Quinn’s Russian and Ukrainian investments.
The properties reportedly 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 will reportedly receive 25 and 30 percent of the value of any assets recovered under the agreement.