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Lynn ‘advised to relocate abroad’, trial hears
Michael Lynn Pic: RollingNews.ie

14 Dec 2023 / courts Print

Lynn ‘advised to relocate abroad’, trial hears

Former solicitor Michael Lynn has told his trial that he was advised to relocate abroad for a year or two.

He told defence counsel Paul Comisky O'Keeffe that a High Court order made on 15 October 2007 immediately froze his accounts “across the board”.

Continuing his evidence for a third day yesterday (13 December), Lynn said that the court order also meant that he was suspended as a solicitor.

He said that he also couldn't return to the office of his legal practice because of the court order, and as the locks had been changed by his solicitor in conjunction with the Law Society.

Fingleton’s ‘deep concern’

Lynn (pictured) told the jury that he had not attended a High Court date on 12 December 2007 because he had held meetings with some of the bankers he had had dealings with.

He said that Irish Nationwide CEO Michael Fingleton “expressed deep concern about me going into the box and speaking about my banking”.

He added that “the request that was made of me was to relocate”, and that he could continue to manage business from abroad as “at that time, things hadn’t collapsed completely”.

“The advice was to relocate for a year or two,” he said, adding that he first went to London, then to Portugal.

He said that he worked with Kendar as a consultant in 2008; however, the company was not functioning normally.

“When the mothership has collapsed, other entities are in jeopardy. There is a huge contagion that occurs ... what we tried to do collectively is to batten down the hatches and see if we could get through it.”

'Financial tornado'

He continued: “The difficulty that emerged had nothing to do with my problem. In 2008, there was a financial tornado that affected the entire world; a commercial Titanic is an understatement. We were finished.”

He said that he and his wife, Bríd Murphy, decided to move to Brazil in 2011, but they had travelled to the country a number of times since 2006 – including in 2010 for fertility treatment.

Lynn told the jury that he didn't speak Portuguese, but “did the equivalent of Manuel in English in 'Fawlty Towers'”.

He told Comiskey O'Keeffe that his then solicitor Robert Eager advised him, when he left Ireland in 2008, to contact gardaí and advise them where he was living. He said that he was also advised to ask for their questions to “understand precisely the scope of the investigation”.

He said that he “would have depended on the legal advice” he received, and denied trying to “evade or avoid” meeting gardaí between 2008 and 2011.

He said that he was put on a “watch list” when he travelled, and that gardaí would also have been aware of his trips to Brazil and other countries in Europe.

‘Dreadful’ prison conditions

Lynn said he and his wife initially moved in Sao Paulo, then later settled in another Brazilian city, Recife. He said that he was “looking for opportunities”, and also taught English for 20 hours a week.

He told the jury that he was arrested in August 2013, as his extradition had been sought by the Irish authorities. Lynn spent four and a half years in prison in Brazil until his return to Ireland in March 2018.

He said that he was “the gringo” in prison, and described the “dreadful” conditions he experienced.

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 obtained multiple mortgages on the same properties, in a situation where banks were unaware that other institutions were also providing finance.

Tesco project

Lynn was taken through an assortment of documents – including a letter from May 2007 that included details of Kendar and overseas developments. He said that banks sought this information “so they could see precisely what was happening abroad”.

The developments outlined in this letter included a Tesco commercial project in Bulgaria, which Lynn said would have been the “most attractive part” of the business. Lynn said that Irish banks were “all over us like a rash” as Tesco was “an attractive client”.

Lynn was asked about his conversations in 2005 with Ciaran Farrell of Permanent TSB, who has previously given evidence during the trial.

Lynn said that he asked Farrell and another banker during this meeting if he could continue to pay the loan facilities of €1.1 million and €1 million as “I needed to use the money, if possible”.

“My memory of what Ciaran said is: 'If you can carry it, that’s okay.’”

Permanent TSB loan

Lynn said that a loan of €1.1 million with Permanent TSB should have been repaid when a €1.9 million loan was drawn down in 2005, but this didn't happen until April 2007.

Comiskey O'Keeffe asked if Lynn had received any communication from the bank about this. “They wouldn’t because they were aware of it. There was no reason for them to communicate in terms of any alarm bells,” Lynn replied.

He said that the €1.1 million loan was mentioned when he sought new lending in 2007, and that he was told “it would be better to pay the €1.1 million”, which he did. He agreed that he received a loan from the bank for €4.9 million in 2007.

Lynn said that he told Farrell that this money would be used for overseas development.

Farrell previously denied, during his evidence to the trial, that these conversations took place.

Overseas development

Lynn was asked about his dealings with other financial institutions in Ireland – including the seven named on the indictment. He said that he explained his intention to use the borrowed money for overseas development to the bank employees he knew.

He said that they would also have been aware that he needed “bridging” finance, and that the security offered would be a solicitor's undertaking.

Some of the bank employees named by Lynn have given evidence during this trial, and have denied any awareness that these borrowings were to be used overseas.

The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.

Eimear Dodd
Eimear Dodd is a court reporter with CCC Nuacht Teoranta