Reprinted with permission from Ireland on Sunday
Sunday 25 February, 2001 • No.180
Tony Quinn with boxer Steve Collins
Is this pyramid selling?
By: Ronnie Bellew
HEALTH AND fitness guru Tony Quinn is allegedly operating a pyramid-style operation in the marketing of his £15,000 self-development seminars in the Bahamas, Egypt and other overseas locations.
Last week, Ireland on Sunday revealed that Quinn's empire is turning over £1m a month.
A garda spokesman told Ireland on Sunday that Quinn's marketing of the seminars "has all the hallmarks" of pyramid selling which was outlawed in this country in 1980.
Documents seen by Ireland on Sunday state that an individual can become an agent for Quinn's two-week "Educo" seminars after paying out a minimum of £15,000 to attend a seminar.
The agent in turn receives £2,000 from the Quinn organisation for each participant he or she directly refers to an Educo seminar.
In a copy of the "agreement for engagement of independent agents" drawn up by Quinn's Channel Islands-registered company, Human Potential Research Seminars Ltd, this is referred to as the "agent's first level".
The "second level" for the agent is an additional £2,000 from the Quinn organisation "in respect of each participant directly referred by a person who is in the agent's first level".
Under the agreement, an agent would need to sell a minimum of eight Educo seminar packages at "first" and/or "second" levels to recoup their initial £15,000 investment.
But the contract also stipulates that agents are "required to attend a minimum of one Educo seminar in every period of 12 months.
"The agent will be responsible for his/her costs (currently £15,000) in relation to attendance at each seminar".
This indicates that agents would need to sell at least eight seminars per annum to break even on their original investment.
The agents are also required to participate in company marketing initiatives at their own costs.
One agent who participated in a Quinn seminar in Egypt attended by 70 people last Autumn, told Ireland on Sunday that he since left the organisation "because of the smell of money in it".
"I found the seminar itself worthwhile but every person seems to be a potential profit centre for Tony Quinn."
He also claims that businesspeople attending the high-powered £50,000 and £100,000 Educo seminars at the same locations, sign an agreement to turn over a third of any increased profits in their business once they return to Ireland.
"This is not directly stated in any of the Educo documentation but I know people who have handed over prior and post seminar accounts to the organisation."
Another former associate of Quinn told Ireland on Sunday that he has been pursued for two years by an individual he calls a "Quinnite" attempting to persuade him to go on one of the Tony Quinn seminars in the Bahamas.
"He has even offered to organise a loan for me at a particular bank in Blackrock. Money isn't a problem for people who follow Tony Quinn. I know people who have remortgaged their homes to go back to the Bahamas for a second or third seminar."
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