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Law Society sent letter to Lynn in September 2007
Former solicitor Michael Lynn arriving at Criminal Courts of Justice last month Pic:RollingNews.ie

12 May 2022 / courts Print

Law Society sent letter to Lynn in September 2007

Former solicitor Michael Lynn has told his multi-million-euro trial that he was greedy and too driven, but he was not a thief.

In his third day giving evidence at his Dublin Circuit Criminal Court trial yesterday (12 May), Mr Lynn (53) described the banks as “confederates” in terms of their relationship with him.

“They were willing to lend to me,” he said.

“Always, always, I had an intention to repay the banks. Without the banks, you are just a person with ideas. Without your name, with the banks, you are just nothing.”

Mr Lynn told the trial: “I am not a thief.” He said that he was “greedy” and “too driven”, but that the banks had used him to make money from him.

‘Rolled-over’ loans

Naming numerous banks and multiple staff members, Mr Lynn described a practice whereby a loan would be given in relation to one property or development, but used on another by being rolled over.

No bank could not have known what was occurring, he said: “First of all, it was done openly, it was discussed, and I repaid those loans. I didn't create a scheme. I worked alongside the banks. It wasn't right, and I have paid dearly for it. I have paid dearly for a long time.”

If a bank gave a facility to someone for 12 months, and the loan had not been repaid, there ought to have been a new letter of loan, or an extension acknowledged by letter, he said.

“There is no letter because it was done verbally,” said Mr Lynn. “If [the banks are] now claiming to be innocent of participation, why didn't they stop me?”

Three loans on ‘Glenlion’ property

During questioning by his own barrister, Paul Comiskey-O'Keeffe BL, Mr Lynn said that he had had three loans on the €5.5 million property, ‘Glenlion’, in Howth, Co Dublin. One of the loans came from Irish Nationwide.

However, the court heard that money was not used for that property, but for a development that Mr Lynn had undertaken in Portugal and wished to expand.

“I had an arrangement with Michael Fingleton that he was to have a profit share with me in relation to my development in Portugal,” said Mr Lynn.

“He lent the money to me, which was purportedly for ‘Glenlion’, but was actually for my development in Portugal.” 

Intervention by Judge Nolan

Judge Martin Nolan intervened, and asked: “Let's be clear, you are saying that Michael Fingleton had a personal profit share with you to profit from this, even though it was the institution of INBS who lent you the money.”

Mr Lynn agreed that that was what he was saying.

Mr Lynn described his relationship with senior figures in Irish banking in the Celtic Tiger era, and about how, when the High Court froze his bank accounts in late 2007, they came to regard him as "toxic".

Fingleton’s fears

He said Mr Fingleton was worried about Mr Lynn giving evidence in court, and describing the relationship between banks and developers.

"Michael Fingleton felt that the lending that we had would cause too much attention to him and his bank, if I was to start explaining the culture that existed for the previous three to five years." Mr Lynn told his barrister, Mr Comiskey-O’Keeffe.

That culture, Mr Lynn explained, involved a borrower getting a loan ostensibly to buy property in Ireland but, in reality, using it to invest abroad.

Law Society letter

He told the trial that, in September 2007, he was on business in Portugal with his wife when he was told of a Law Society letter sent to the partners in his practice back in Dublin. The Society had tasked an inspector to examine the business, the court heard.

The inspection was “focused very much on my borrowing – entirely on that,” Mr Lynn said.

In October 2007, the High Court froze his bank accounts, and the accounts of his legal and property companies.

“The entire structure was frozen overnight,” Mr Lynn said, adding, “I was stopped in my tracks”.

‘Breathing space’

He started to get calls from bankers, people he had dealt with personally, who were getting concerned about his ability to repay.

Mr Lynn said he went to bankers, including Michael Fingleton and Sean FitzPatrick, and sought “breathing space”.

He told the court that he said to them: “Look, I'm in a real crisis here, and I need to get some time to see can I sort this out,” he told the court.

“My intention, as it always had been, was to repay since the first loan in 1997. I wanted to do everything I could to try and sort this, for myself and everyone I had relations with,” he said.

Mr Lynn said that Michael Fingleton had said he was “concerned [about] the impact the story could have on banking”.

Mr Lynn added that his loans at the time "were probably around €70 million" and to repay them in one was "simply impossible".

Mr Fingleton was concerned, said Mr Lynn, about him [Mr Lynn] "going into the stand and [giving] evidence".

‘Finished as a solicitor’

In response to the inquiries about his affairs, he said he swore an affidavit in which: “I didn't try to hide … I knew at that stage that I was finished as a solicitor, but I hadn't lost the will to live.”

Mr Comiskey-O'Keeffe put it to Mr Lynn that he had been required to attend the High Court and be cross-examined, and asked him whether he had attended.

“No, I didn't,” said Mr Lynn. “What had happened was I had meetings with the banks, with key individuals who had consented to loans. It was indicated to me that I needed to take the hit, and that I could start again.”

He said that Mr Fingleton and Mr FitzPatrick had “indicated [to me] that I was toxic”. 

‘Really nervous’

He had what he described as a general meeting with bankers before he had been asked to give evidence. They were all concerned, he said in evidence.

At another meeting with a group of bankers, of whom he said he knew three: "They appeared to be really nervous."

Mr Lynn (53) of Millbrook Court, Red Cross, 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 Mr Lynn obtained multiple mortgages on the same properties in a situation where banks were unaware that other institutions were also providing finance.

The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.

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