Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Friday, 24 October 2008 16:12 UK

Quinn insurance firm in huge fine

Sean Quinn
Mr Quinn said he accepted he had made mistakes

A company owned by one of Ireland's richest businessmen has been fined a record 3.25m euro by the Republic of Ireland's financial watchdog.

County Fermanagh businessman Sean Quinn has stepped down as chairman of Quinn Insurance following an investigation.

The Financial Regulator said it had "reasonable cause" to suspect breaches of regulatory requirements.

Personally fining Mr Quinn 200,000 euro, it said the firm had fully co-operated and the matter was now closed.

In a statement, the Financial Regulator said the suspected breaches related to contraventions by Quinn Insurance of "obligations under the Insurance Acts and Regulations, including failure to notify the Financial Regulator prior to providing loans to related companies".

We will pay the fines and move on
Sean Quinn
It added that policyholders at the firm had not been affected.

In a statement, Sean Quinn said the company "had made loans to a related company which amounted to 288m in May 2008 when the accounts were finalised.

"These loans breached insurance regulations and as a result of this the Financial Regulator has sanctioned Quinn Insurance and myself. I accept complete responsibility for this breach of regulation.

"While I accept that I made mistakes, I feel that the levels of fines do not reflect the fact that there was no risk to policyholders or the taxpayer but are a result of the pressures existing in the current environment. However, we will pay the fines and move on."

Mr Quinn said he would continue as chairman of Quinn Group.

Last year, the Quinn Group made profits of 433m euros - an increase of nearly a third on 2006. It also bought the health insurer BUPA Ireland.

Mr Quinn and his wife and children own the companies outright and are believed to have amassed a personal fortune of nearly 4bn euro.

The Quinn Group employs more than 5,000 people throughout the world and have recently expanded into India and Russia.

Mr Quinn began in business in 1973 at a small gravel pit on the family farm in Derrylin, County Fermanagh.

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