Ireland sentenced former billionaire Sean Quinn to jail on Friday for failing to disclose assets he was hiding abroad, completing the fall from grace of the richest man in Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” boom.
Quinn, whose four billion euro ($5.2 billion) business and insurance empire collapsed after a disastrous investment in the now failed Anglo Irish Bank, is the first major player jailed in connection with the country’s economic collapse, having come to personify its boom and bust.
He was found guilty of contempt of court in June for violating an order not to block state-owned Anglo, since renamed the Irish Banking Resolution Corporation (IBRC), from seizing foreign property assets worth an estimated 500 million euros.
He was initially spared prison and ordered to disclose information regarding assets spread as far afield as Russia, Ukraine and Belize but Justice Elizabeth Dunne told a Dublin high court on Friday that Quinn only had himself to blame over contempt she described as “nothing short of outrageous.”
“I cannot ignore the extent and degree of contempt of court on his part, the appropriate term by reasons of non compliance with the orders is 9 weeks,” said Dunne, who deemed Quinn “evasive and uncooperative” when giving evidence.
Quinn, 66, sat in court with a tissue held to his face. His eyes bloodshot, he stared straight ahead as the sentence was handed down.
The judge said she was considering placing a stay on the jail term until Quinn’s Supreme Court appeal against his contempt is heard, but Quinn’s lawyers said they would speak to him to find out if he wanted to start his term immediately.
The case resumes at 1250 GMT.
Quinn’s son Sean and nephew Peter, who were also found guilty of contempt, were handed three-month jail terms in July. Peter Quinn fled the jurisdiction to Northern Ireland while his cousin served a full sentence.
Quinn turned a rural quarrying operation on his family farm into a global business empire only to become the subject of the largest ever Irish bankruptcy order four years after becoming its richest man.
He is still regarded by some as a hero due to being a big employer in his home county of Cavan and thousands of locals, including sporting figures and politicians, have twice held marches since August to support him in the court proceedings.