Bankers allowed Michael Lynn to use mortgages to pay for overseas property, court heard

Former barrister Michael Lynn told his multi-million dollar theft trial that he got permission from bankers to use his mortgage money to pay for his overseas property developments.

Mr Lynn (53) told his trial in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that he was not allowed to do what he wanted with the money but that the banks ‘would have understood that it ‘was to buy a specific site at a certain time and pay it back’.

He said the practice dated back to 2003 when he struck a similar deal with Bank of Ireland.

On his second day on the stand on Monday, Mr Lynn told defense counsel that those provisions were spelled out in emails he had sent to bankers. “I had to do this to protect myself too,” he said. He said he doesn’t have those emails now.

Mr Lynn (53) of Millbrook Court, Red Cross, Co. Wicklow, is on trial for the theft of around £27million from seven financial institutions. He pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of robbery in Dublin between October 23, 2006 and April 20, 2007.

According to the prosecution, Mr Lynn obtained several mortgages on the same properties in a situation where the banks were unaware that other institutions were also providing financing.

When questioned by Paul Comiskey O’Keeffe BL, defending, Mr Lynn stated that he conducted all his activities on a Kendar e-mail address and that these e-mails existed until October 2007 on a server.

He says he requested information from the company’s liquidator, the director of public prosecutions and the banks. He said he had only received a redacted response from Irish Permanent.

“Inverted” properties

Earlier, Mr Lynn testified about his lending history, starting with the first investment properties he bought in the late 1990s. He said those properties were ‘flipped’ for a profit within a few month.

Mr Lynn said he was introduced to a process by bankers in which the mortgage was not signed and no documents were filed with the land registry at the time. He said this process, referred to in court as a “corporate-only” mortgage, “has allowed lending to become faster and smoother.”

“I was introduced to these processes by bankers,” Mr Lynn told the court. “I also say that I did not refuse them. I kissed them. I was a young person learning business. Mr Lynn said the registration process could take a year.

“If you were in the business model of buying, holding and selling within four months to a year, the registration process would take a long time,” he said.

When buying a property with the intention of selling it quickly, he said he would arrange with the banks for it to be an undertaker only. Those arrangements were made with high profile bankers such as Michael Fingleton, the former chief executive of Irish Nationwide, he said.

When asked by a lawyer if this arrangement was on a bank’s letter of offer, Mr. Lynn said no. “It was a verbal agreement with specific bankers or people who held leadership positions on the credit committee,” he said.

The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.

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