Billionaire Files for Bankruptcy Protection

Sean Quinn filed for personal bankruptcy protection in Belfast, Ireland, on November 11, 2011. Quinn, according to Forbe’s Magazine, was “one of the wealthiest men on the planet, ranked 164th in the world at the peak of his fortune.” His fortune was reported to be in excess of $6 billion dollars at the time of its peak.

When Quinn filed for bankruptcy, he listed debts owing the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation a sum of $3.85 billion in personal debts and an additional $1.85 billion from the Quinn Group, his family business.

Quinn first started the family business in the 1970s selling sand and gravel from a quarry off his father’s farm. Eventually, he parlayed the modest receipts from the quarry into other successful adventures resulting into a multi-billion dollar conglomerate that included mining, manufacturing, real estate, and insurance companies.

The financial empire Quinn built began to come apart during the 2008 financial crisis. He heavily invested in Irish real estate during the boon and leveraged derivative accounts associated with the Anglo Irish Bank, eventually owning up to 25% of its stock. When the stock market crashed and the real estate market plunged, all during the same time frame, the losses were more than Quinn could absorb. He was bankrupt!

According to news reports, Quinn accepted a certain amount of the responsibility for going bankrupt, but he also accused the lending bank and the Irish Government as having culpability in contributing. All agreed that the economy also played a major role in contributing to the bankruptcy.

This story serves to illustrate to the rest of us that bankruptcy can happen to anyone including the extremely wealthy. There are a wide variety of reasons people can go broke. The reasons range from unlucky events caused through no one’s fault to both sides of a financial agreement contributing to its failure.

Personal and business lending contracts are complicated legal instruments that require a risk from both parties entering into the financial relationship. Either side can make a mistake in calculating what they think their risk is in entering the agreement, and losses on either side can occur. Although these risks can be reasonably calculated, mistakes can still be made.

On the other hand, there are events that can happen to cause a bankruptcy that are just out of your immediate control. One of such is the economy. No one can accurately predict the fate of the world’s economy because there are too many factors that can change the conditions of the economy overnight. As an example, cataclysmic weather events, war, and energy crisis can have an effect on the economy of a country overnight.

Other events happening out of your control that can effect a bankruptcy can be personal medical conditions, divorce, sudden loss of income, catastrophic events, and a variety of other circumstances.

Bankruptcy can occur to anyone regardless of your status and through circumstances out of your control. When it does, it can create a very convoluted situation that might require a bankruptcy lawyer to help you untangle the mess. Contact us today, and we will help you find a bankruptcy attorney in your area.

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