Businessman Sean Quinn - whose insurance group was placed in the hands of provisional administrators this week - has today spoken out strongly against the move.

In an exclusive interview with RTE News, Mr Quinn described the decision - by the Financial Regulator - as 'one of the biggest errors ever in the history of corporate Ireland'.

He rejected claims by the Regulator and the Minister for Finance that his company had failed to disclose information about its finances until a few days ago.

Seán Quinn has said the decision to place his insurance group in provisional administration would have 'major collateral damage for me, my family, to the area, to Quinn Direct and to its employees' and that there was 'absolutely no need for it'.

The Financial Regulator said it took the court action when it became aware that certain subsidiaries of Quinn Insurance had given guarantees which have the effect of reducing the insurer's assets by around €448m.

Mr Quinn said the issue of guarantees to subsidiaries within the Quinn Group was known for a number of years and was contained in the group's accounts.

He told RTE he met the regulator to explain the position before the decision was taken. Mr Quinn claimed the regulator demanded that the multi-million euro risk be filled by that evening.

He said all of the banks involved also contacted the regulator to say they had no issue with the undertakings and that the 'Quinn Group was not in default, the Quinn Group was profitable'.

Mr Quinn also said he 'fundamentally disagreed' with the Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, who said yesterday in the Dáil that the Financial Regulator had acted in the proper performance of his functions.

The Minister said the Regulator had concerns that the company had significantly breached solvency ratios and that its subsidiaries had entered into a series of agreements, which had reduced its assets by some €448m.

He said the Regulator was concerned that Quinn Insurance had failed to make adequate provisions for its debts, including prospective liabilities.

Earlier, around 300 workers from across the Quinn Group gathered outside the Dáil this afternoon in protest at the Financial Regulator's decision.