Insurer will run off businesses in Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. In Dublin, boss steps down after £2.6m fine from regulator.

Quinn Insurance has closed its European operations to new business because of the global economic downturn.

The Irish insurer confirmed it was no longer selling insurance through its offices in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, where it began trading in 2007.

The move came as Sean Quinn senior, chairman and founder of Quinn Insurance, stepped down after the company was fined €3.25m (£2.6m) by the Irish Financial Regulator.

A Quinn spokesman said the insurer would now focus on the Irish and UK markets.

“Quinn Insurance has decided to stop writing insurance business in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. These markets account for less than 1% of total premium income and the company has decided to maintain its focus on its key markets in Ireland and the UK, where it is still enjoying considerable growth opportunities.

“While the company made good progress in developing opportunities in Europe, given economic conditions, we feel we are unlikely to establish the necessary scale in the foreseeable future.”

The spokesman added that Quinn Insurance would continue to service all its existing policies and any claims that were made on them.

Sean Quinn, one of Ireland’s richest men, said he accepted “complete responsibility” for the breach of regulation that led to the insurer’s fine. He was also personally fined €200,000 and will be replaced as chairman by Jim Quigley.

The breach related to loans totalling €288m given by Quinn Insurance to a related company in May 2008 when the accounts were finalised.

The Irish regulator said the 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”.

It added that policyholders would not be affected.

In a statement, Sean Quinn said: “While I accept that I made mistakes, I feel 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.

“Because of the above issues I informed the board on 27 June this year of my intention to retire from the board of Quinn Insurance.

“While I will continue as chairman of Quinn Group, given the experience and capability of the existing management team, I will be able to spend more time on family assets outside the group, particularly our property portfolio, which is now active in 10 countries.”