On 20 June 2022, John Berry BL, prosecuting, told the court that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was seeking a retrial. The barrister said that the prosecution wished to “make certain enquiries” due to some assertions that Lynn had made during the trial.
‘Not guilty’ plea
At the trial yesterday (25 October), Lynn (55), with addresses in Millbrook Court, Redcross and Arklow, Co Wicklow, pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of stealing property from various financial institutions between 2006 and 2007.
Berry said that the prosecution alleges that Lynn obtained loans from certain banks and building societies to buy properties in Ireland while each was unaware that he had also approached multiple organisations for money.
He suggested that this was not “a case of carelessness”, and that the prosecution would say that Lynn “deceived” these banks and building societies, stealing over €27 million from these institutions over a nine-month period between October 2006 and June 2007.
He said that Lynn was a former solicitor who “self-described” as a property investor and knew how the market worked.
Berry said that the prosecution alleges that Lynn obtained a loan for €3.65 million for the purpose of purchasing a number of residential investment properties from Ulster Bank.
It is alleged that, while Lynn was obtaining mortgages for certain properties from Ulster Bank, he was also getting loans from other institutions for some of the same properties.
Counsel said that the prosecution would say that Lynn gave Ulster Bank documents – including a solicitor's undertakings and a statement of affairs. He said that the jury would hear that Ulster Bank was told that it would receive the first legal charge on the property.
He noted that banks frequently looked for the first legal charge as security against a mortgage as, if something went wrong, they would own the property, and could sell it to recoup their losses.
Berry said that banks would release money at that time if they obtained a solicitor's undertaking, “a solemn promise” from the solicitor to receive the funds and use them for the purchase of a property.
He told the jury that, in the case of one property, Glenlion in Howth, Lynn obtained a loan from Irish Nationwide Building Society on 4 April 2007 for €4.12 million to buy the property.
Lynn then obtained a loan of €3.78 million on 12 April from ACCBank, and €3.85 million from Bank of Scotland Ireland on 19 April, for the same property.
Berry said Glenlion's guide price was €5.5 million, and it is alleged Lynn obtained finance in excess of €11 million.
He told jurors that the prosecution says that Lynn obtained €1.2 million in mortgages to buy another property valued at €390,000. They will also hear evidence that Lynn received over €500,000 to buy another property, but did not buy it.
The financial institutions involved were Bank of Ireland, National Irish Bank (later known as Danske Bank), Irish Life and Permanent, Ulster Bank, ACCBank, Bank of Scotland Ireland Ltd, and Irish Nationwide Building Society.
Berry said that Anglo Irish Bank insisted on using its own solicitors, and secured the first legal charge on Lynn's loans.
‘Importance’ of first legal charge
He said that the prosecution alleges that Lynn was in a position to carry out these thefts due to his understanding of the nature and importance of a first legal charge, and of a solicitor's undertaking.
Berry said that the prosecution would allege that statements of affairs provided to banks contained errors, and were not from the firm of accountants they claimed to come from.
He said that theft was defined in law as “taking something without the consent of the owner”. He noted that consent “obtained by deception” was not consent.
He said that the prosecution alleges that Lynn was able to deceive banks and building societies as he “understood the system” as a solicitor and property investor.
Berry noted that the alleged thefts took place in 2006 and 2007, and that some might think that banks were bailed out for what happened around that time and “have not been overburdened by humility or gratitude since then”.
He told jurors that they must put aside any prejudices that they may have towards banks or lawyers, and assess the facts in this case “coldly and clinically”.
The trial is expected to last for up to eight weeks, and continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.