Michael Lynn denies he told a ‘pack of lies’ over relations with senior Irish bankers
Posted on 16th May 2022 at 21:10
Former solicitor says banker Michael Fingleton ‘threw him to the wolves’
Former solicitor Michael Lynn has denied he told his multi-million euro theft trial a “pack of lies” in relation to alleged secret deals he had with senior Irish bankers.
Prosecution counsel on Monday put it to Mr Lynn (53) that he has been dishonest in his evidence to the jury in which he alleged that he had permission from a number of banks to use mortgage loan money to pay for his property developments abroad.
Mr Lynn of Millbrook Court, Red Cross, Co Wicklow is on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court accused of the theft of about €27 million from seven financial institutions.
He has pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of theft in Dublin between October 23rd, 2006 and April 20th, 2007.
It is the prosecution case that Mr Lynn obtained multiple mortgages on the same properties in a situation where banks were unaware that other institutions were also providing finance.
Mr Lynn has told his trial that the banks were aware he had multiple loans on the same properties and that this was “custom and practice” among bankers in Celtic Tiger Ireland.
Starting his second week in the witness box on Monday, Mr Lynn’s cross-examination by prosecuting counsel, Patrick McGrath SC, continued.
Mr Lynn agreed with Mr McGrath that his evidence is that there were “two types of secret deals” with the banks – a “secret profit deal” with Michael Fingleton, then chief executive of Irish Nationwide, and an understanding with the banks in which he said he was allowed to use the mortgage loan money to pay for his property developments abroad.
Mr Lynn has alleged he had a secret profit share arrangement with Mr Fingleton in which Irish Nationwide would give him a loan purportedly for his Howth property Glenlion but which he would use to develop a site in Portugal and Mr Fingleton would profit from it personally.
Mr Lynn agreed with prosecution counsel that he has never contacted Mr Fingleton to make a statement on the alleged deal, saying there was “no point” and that “he threw me to the wolves”.
“He absolutely wasn’t going to assist me,” Mr Lynn said. “He turned his back on me.”
The court heard Mr Fingleton is unwell and unable to give evidence at the trial.
“I’m very sorry for him that he is sick,” Mr Lynn said. “But I’m not responsible that no statement was taken from him from 2008 to 2022.”
Mr Lynn named bank officials from each bank who he said he – or his property company employees – met with to make these secret deals, including Irish Life and Permanent, Bank of Ireland, Bank of Scotland Ireland, Ulster Bank and National Irish Bank.
The court heard Sean Fitzpatrick, former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, who died last year, was also “instrumental” in allowing this arrangement to happen. There are no charges against Mr Lynn in relation to Anglo Irish Bank.
The court has heard that Anglo Irish Bank secured the first legal charge on properties Mr Lynn took loans out on. Mr McGrath put it to Mr Lynn that he “couldn’t divert that money into fraudulent undertakings because they had their own independent solicitors”. Mr Lynn said that was not correct.
Giving evidence on Fiona McAleenan, a solicitor who worked for him and who testified at the trial, Mr Lynn said she was “absolutely” aware that he had these secret deals with the bank in relation to his mortgages.
“She had been working for me since 2005. She was signing the undertakings,” Mr Lynn said.
Mr McGrath put it to Mr Lynn that this was never put to Ms McAleenan in the six days she spent in the witness box. “You are now blackening her character,” Mr McGrath said.
“. . . If she was aware of this charade and these secret deals it’s the first thing your counsel would have put to her,” Mr McGrath said.
Mr Lynn replied that he was responsible for his borrowings and Ms McAleenan was not morally responsible. “Even in 2007 I never involved her, I took it on the chin,” Mr Lynn said, referring to when the allegations first came to light. He said he didn’t think it was fair to “bring down other people”.
Mr McGrath said Mr Lynn “didn’t have the decency to put these allegations to [Ms McAleenan]”, noting that he is a lawyer and knows how a trial works.
Mr Lynn said he was a civil lawyer, not a criminal lawyer and he had never been involved in a criminal trial before. “I’m in the dentist chair Mr McGrath, I can’t do my own filling,” he said.
Mr Lynn told the trial that Liz Doyle, who worked for him as a legal executive, was also aware of the secret deals. He agreed that the allegation was not put to her when she gave evidence at the trial.
“Our case is that this is a pack of lies about the secret deals,” Mr McGrath said. Mr Lynn disagreed.
Mr McGrath continued: “When you entered into these secret deals, according to your dishonest evidence, with these individuals in the banks, did you ever consider whether they were authorised by the bank to allow you to do this?”
Mr Lynn replied that “each of the banks said it was okay” but that “as a lawyer”, he should have checked. “That’s why I no longer practise as a solicitor,” he said.
“You no longer practise as a lawyer for a different reason Mr Lynn,” Mr McGrath said, adding Mr Lynn had been struck off.
“I was struck off as a lawyer because I took my eye off the ball and I was a property developer,” Mr Lynn said. “There’s no excuse, but that doesn’t make me a thief.”
Prosecution counsel took Mr Lynn through a number of loans he took out. In relation to these mortgages, Mr Lynn said he “absolutely” told each of the banks that he already had taken out a loan on the same property with other banks.
“All of the banks were aware,” he said. “There was no mystery.”
Mr Lynn said prosecution counsel was now going into “very telescopic” evidence in relation to each loan. “In actual fact, the banks were happy to give general loans on the basis these general loans would be repaid,” he said. This was “the custom and practice”, he added.
“The banks were acquiescing, giving me full consent and this was repaid every time,” Mr Lynn said. “These are big institutions, they have terrific professionals working for them and they allowed it to happen.” He told the court that there were “multiple examples” of the arrangement being custom and practice in the banks.
“If I’m going to pay, then others should too,” Mr Lynn said, at which point Judge Martin Nolan told him he was not entitled to make speeches.
The trial continues.
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