Ireland's onetime richest man could face jail after a state bank launched contempt proceedings against him on Friday, saying he was blocking it from seizing hundreds of millions of euros of properties in eastern Europe and Central America.

The Irish Banking Resolution Corporation (IBRC) asked the High Court to declare former billionaire Sean Quinn in contempt for violating an order not to interfere with foreign property assets worth an estimated 500 million euros (416 million pounds).

Quinn, who has come to personify the rapid unravelling of Ireland's Celtic Tiger economy, could be jailed if he is found to have breached the July High Court order.

Quinn, 65, turned a rural quarrying operation on his family farm into a 4 billion euro globe-spanning empire.

But he lost over 1 billion euros in a disastrous investment in Anglo Irish Bank shortly before the bank collapsed under the weight of failed property loans and he was declared bankrupt in a Dublin court last month.

IBRC, which was created from the remains of Anglo Irish Bank, accused Quinn of stripping assets from foreign-based companies to prevent it from securing money it is owed.

IBRC faces a very substantial loss if it fails to secure assets in Russia, Ukraine and Belize, Paul Gallagher, senior counsel for IBRC said.

The effects of what we say is the contempt, is continuing to happen, happening very quickly and the damage which we are trying to stop will have happened in other jurisdictions, Gallagher said.

The application for a contempt order also named Quinn's son Sean Jnr and his nephew Peter Quinn. A barrister representing the Quinn family said they denied breaching the injunction.

The judge ordered a full hearing for March 21.

(Reporting by Sarah O'Connor, Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by David Cowell)