Northern Ireland

Sean Quinn case: Ukrainians fined by Belfast court

Sean Quinn
Image caption The case concerns property linked to Sean Quinn

A Ukrainian lawyer and an economist who defied a ban on the disposal of eastern European property linked to Sean Quinn are to be fined £15,000 each.

Oleksandr Serpokrylov and Dmytro Zaitsev will be sentenced to four weeks in jail if they do not pay the financial penalty within six months.

High Court judge Mr Justice McCloskey imposed the punishment on the two men for acting in contempt of a court.

It concerned an injunction over a 45m dollar (£28.6m) shopping centre in Kiev.

The pair, as representatives of a mysterious offshore company, were held to have flagrantly and deliberately ignored an order against any transfer of debts surrounding the mall.

Lawyers for the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation issued contempt proceedings against Mr Serpokrylov and Mr Zaitsez, and the British Virgin Islands-registered Lyndhurst Development Trading SA, for allegedly flouting the injunction imposed at the Northern Ireland High Court in December 2011.

IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank, has been seeking control of former billionaire Mr Quinn's international empire in an attempt to recoup more than £2bn.

As part of the wider legal battle Lyndhurst Development Trading was prohibited from enforcing any loan agreement.

It was alleged that the injunction was ignored later the same day at a hearing in Kiev.

Lyndhurst secured judgment from the Ukrainian court that it was entitled to enforce a $45m debt against the firm that owns the mall, Univermag.

Null and void

Mr Justice McCloskey has already found the property debt was transferred from one of Mr Quinn's companies to put it beyond the reach of IRBC.

All disputed transactions were declared null and void, with control returned to the former Anglo Irish Bank.

A chain of assignments scrutinised in the case set out how Fermanagh-based firm Demesne Investments, of which Mr Quinn is a former director, was owed 45m dollars by Univermag.

But in April 2011 Demesne transferred its rights to the debt to Innishmore Consultancy, another Northern Ireland company run by Mr Quinn's nephew Peter Quinn.

From there the loan was moved on to Lyndhurst.

Lawyers for IBRC argued that the assignment was a sham, part of an asset-stripping exercise carried out at a massive undervalue and not worth the paper it was written on.

Despite securing judgment, they have pressed ahead with contempt of court proceedings against Lyndhurst, Mr Serpokrylov, a lawyer, and Mr Zaitsez, an economist.

The two men appeared before the High Court by video-link from Kiev to defend the action.

In a scathing judgment last month Mr Justice McCloskey found both them and Lyndhurst in contempt of court.

He delayed imposing punishment to allow further submissions by the respondents' legal team.

With Mr Serpokrylov and Mr Zaitzev remaining outside the European Union, questions were raised about the enforceability of any outcome.

Their barrister warned against an order that may simply "beat the air".

Ruling on Thursday on the penalties, Mr Justice McCloskey described the two men as "relatively minor players in the overall scheme" who had acted on their client's instructions.

But he also pointed out how they had declined to disclose their income or assets, and made no attempt to answer questions raised in the case.

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