Sean Quinn: 'I'd swap places with jailed son'

Sean Quinn Sean Quinn said he felt obliged to defend himself against 'injustices' that had been done

Bankrupt former billionaire Sean Quinn has said he would trade places with his son, who is serving a jail sentence for hiding millions from a bank owed £2bn.

"I believe my son is more innocent than anybody," he told the BBC. "I'll do whatever they want me to do."

He avoided jail for contempt of court, but must co-operate within three months with the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, formerly Anglo Irish Bank.

His son, Sean jnr, and nephew Peter Darragh Quinn were sentenced to prison.

Both men were sentenced to prison until the purging of their contempt of court, which arose when they breached an order not to put 500m euros of overseas property assets beyond the reach of the bank.

BBC NI's Julian Fowler

For the last 40 years Sean Quinn has given few interviews, but now he is on the offensive.

Once Ireland's richest man, we meet in a sparsely furnished office in an old tyre factory.

He may have lost his fortune, but he is now fighting for his reputation and for more than two hours he explains why he feels an injustice has been done.

Mr Quinn is also fighting for his freedom as he believes the bank wants to see him join his son behind bars for being in contempt of court.

He believes an inquiry is necessary into the actions of the bank and financial regulator in order to vindicate him.

For the people of Fermanagh, Cavan and Leitrim Mr Quinn's legacy is the thousands of jobs he created and he says he feels obliged to fight to defend that legacy.

Peter Darragh Quinn failed to appear for sentencing and a warrant for his arrest was issued by the High Court in Dublin.

'Fear of jail'

Sean jnr began his sentence immediately and will serve out the remainder in the training unit of Mountjoy prison, a semi-open low security facility.

Mr Quinn told the BBC's Julian Fowler he had not seen his nephew "since last Friday".

"He found himself in a situation where he knew they wanted him in prison," he said.

"They knew he couldn't purge the contempt. He knew there would be no upper limit on the contempt - that's what scared him.

"The fear of jail concerned him more than me or Sean."

Mr Quinn was quoted in the Irish Independent on Tuesday as appealing for his nephew to "face the music" and hand himself in.

The County Fermanagh man told the BBC: "I created a lot of employment and wealth in this region.

"To take that away from me unlawfully, I feel I would be sidestepping my responsibility by not defending myself.

"I feel an obligation to defend my principles, my family and my region from the injustice that had been done."

Asked if he felt there was a desire to see him behind bars, Mr Quinn replied: "I do."

Peter Darragh Quinn Peter Darragh Quinn is a nephew of the bankrupt former billionaire Sean Quinn

The Irish state bailed out the Anglo Irish Bank when it failed and the IBRC's function is now to recover money for the Irish taxpayer.

The bank is owed £2bn by Sean Quinn and sought to recover some of that from property owned by him in Russia and Ukraine.

However, the bank found itself locked out of the company that controlled the Quinn property portfolio and found that the money and ownership was disappearing into a network of companies across the world.

Referring to the family's portfolio of international property Mr Quinn said: "The easiest thing would have been to jump in a jet and head anywhere we wanted where we had assets and there would be no dispute.

"We had no dispute in Russia or Ukraine. We didn't do that. We wanted to honour our commitments and vindicate our position."

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