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‘Greedy’ Lynn ‘got caught out’ – prosecution
Michael Lynn Pic: RollingNews.ie

15 Dec 2023 / courts Print

‘Greedy’ Lynn ‘got caught out’ – prosecution

Former solicitor Michael Lynn is a “greedy” risk-taker who lived for the next big deal and pulled the wool over the banks' eyes, his trial has been told.

In his closing speech to the jury today (15 December), prosecuting counsel told the jury: “He should not be allowed to pull the wool over your eyes.”

“I think Mr Lynn is a risk-taker,” Karl Finnegan SC, prosecuting, told the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court trial.

“It's clear he lived for the next big deal … He is still gambling but the gamble has changed. The gamble is [that] you might accept his version of events.”

Mr Lynn (55) of Millbrook Court, Redcross, Co Wicklow, is on trial accused of the theft of around €27 million from seven financial institutions. He has pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of theft in Dublin between 23 October 2006 and 20 April 2007.

It is the prosecution’s case that Lynn (pictured) obtained multiple mortgages on the same properties, in a situation where banks were unaware that other institutions were also providing finance.

'Put biases aside'

Lynn has told the court that he had “off-the-books” agreements with the banks to use the loan money for his property developments abroad. He said that he had a “secret deal” with former Irish Nationwide chief Michael Fingleton in relation to the use of Irish Nationwide funds for overseas property development, which Fingleton had a stake in.

In his closing speech, Finnegan said that, if the jurors had any bias towards banks, towards solicitors or property developers, they must put those biases aside.

He said that the banks had not received good attention in the media, and some jurors might know people who had had unhappy experiences with them over the years. “That can't be part of your consideration,” he said. “Two wrongs don't make a right.”

He said that there might be a suggestion that the banks were “shoddy, careless, reckless”.

“It doesn't matter,” he said, noting that, if someone left their front door open and their jewellery was stolen, “they were careless, but it is still theft”.

‘Capable and clever’

Finnegan said that he believed that what happened with Lynn was “very simple and straightforward”.

“He started off in practice; he does well. Goes into property development; does well. Builds up a relationship with the banks, is a good borrower; he pays back his loans. He's a perfect client. He's a very, very capable and clever man.”

But Lynn got “greedy” and abused the position he had put himself in, Finnegan said.

Outlining the legal definition of theft, Finnegan said that it did not have to be permanent, and could be temporary.

“I have no doubt Mr Lynn wasn't planning on taking €27 million and sailing into the sunset with it and disappearing. He probably was going to pay it back, but he got caught out.”

Finnegan said that “millions were to be made abroad”, and that Lynn was hoping to flip properties overseas and have so much money that he would be able to repay the banks.

“It doesn't matter; it's still theft,” Finnegan said.

Benefits to banks ‘unclear’

He said that it was “implausible” that these seven financial institutions, across the length and breadth of the country, were “in cahoots” with Lynn in terms of his borrowings, and were facilitating Lynn in a “unique” way.

He said that it was completely unclear what benefits the banks were getting from such an arrangement.

Finnegan noted the witnesses from the various banks who gave evidence and denied that such an arrangement existed – including one who termed it a “fairy tale”.

“This case is about credibility,” Finnegan said. “You have to decide where the credibility lies.”

Finnegan said that Lynn first brought up the secret deals with bankers in his first trial, noting that it was now limited to Michael Fingleton, the former Irish Nationwide boss. He said that it was “damning” that Lynn first mentioned having a memo of understanding with Fingleton only in this trial.

“He was trying to embellish. He's a gambler and he's trying to push it further,” he told the court. “It's spectacular that, in the first trial, there was no mention of a memo of understanding.”

Finnegan said that Lynn was “deflecting responsibility”.

“The defence is short on corroboration, but heavy on blame, heavy on allegations against people, heavy on allegations against individuals who came before you to say 'it's not true'.”

Finnegan urged the jury to use its common sense and experience: “If you do that, I trust the correct decision is reached,” he said.

‘Banks were aware’

Starting his closing speech to the jury, Paul Comiskey O’Keeffe BL, defending, said that the jury’s decision would affect the balance of Lynn’s life. “That underlines the seriousness and solemnity of the decision you have to make,” he said.

Comiskey O’Keeffe reminded the jury that Lynn remained an innocent man, and that the burden of proof was on the prosecution.

He said that Lynn’s defence was that, in respect of one financial institution – Irish Nationwide – there was a profit-share agreement with Fingleton, while the other banks were aware of the purpose of Lynn's borrowings.

“If you accept [that] the banks were aware, then there's no theft,” Comiskey O'Keeffe said. “Theft requires deception.”

Comiskey O'Keeffe said that anyone who might have applied for a car loan and then spent it on a holiday might be surprised to hear that this was considered theft.

“Is a lie still a lie if everybody knows it's a lie?” he said, adding: “What makes untruth a lie is deception.”

Insurance pay-out ‘relevant’

Comiskey O'Keeffe said that the prosecution relied heavily on the assertion that Lynn was a perfect client for the banks. “This perfection was based on custom and practice of undertaking-only mortgages going back to the 1990s,” he said. “That's how he achieved such an attractive status in that respect.”

Defence counsel said that the prosecution had discounted the issue of insurance as being irrelevant in relation to the banks, but he noted that it emerged only in the second trial that Bank of Ireland had received an insurance pay-out.

“It's relevant in how you interpret the evidence of the banks,” he said, noting that this bank also had internal emails indicating that It was aware of Lynn having undertaking-only mortgages.

Comiskey O'Keeffe said that there was no assertion on the defence side that the banks were involved in a conspiracy. “What's bizarre about these seven distinct banks is that not one of them ever sent a letter of demand seeking compliance with an undertaking,” he said.

“[Mr Lynn] has never registered a mortgage in favour of any bank. This was the business model, the custom and practice that developed. You can't account for this unique similarity between these seven financial institutions without seeing Mr Lynn as a common thread between them all.”

The trial resumes on Monday before Judge Martin Nolan and the jury, with the defence closing speech expected to continue then.

Isabel Hayes
Isabel Hayes
Isabel Hayes is a court reporter with CCC Nuacht Teoranta