€25m deal was a 'minor detail', says Philip Lynch
BUSINESSMAN Philip Lynch told the Commercial Court yesterday that a €25m deal in 2006-07 to buy development lands in Waterford was "a minor detail" in his life at that time.
The chief executive of the One51 investment group also said he could not let developer Gerry Conlan -- who was involved in the deal -- be described as "a gambler".
Mr Conlan, he said, "is not a gambler and I would hate anyone to say that about him".
This remark was a response to alleged advice by businessman Pascal Taggart that if Mr Lynch "played with" Mr Conlan, he would lose as Mr Conlan was "a gambler".
Mr Lynch also denied a suggestion that he never had any arrangement with Mr Conlan that would have allowed him to exit the Waterford deal at any time -- and at a profit -- before the Lynch family signed up for the €25m loan from AIB in February of 2007.
Mr Lynch was giving evidence in the continuing action by him, his wife Eileen and their four children -- Judith, Paul, Phillipa and Therese -- against AIB and two firms of solicitors.
The action is aimed at preventing the bank from pursuing them over the €25m loan for the purchase of 86 acres at Kilbarry, Waterford, to be developed as a shopping and retail centre.
The Lynch family claims that the loan was advanced on a non-recourse basis, meaning that the bank could take back the land if they were unable to repay the loan but could not pursue them individually for the money.
The family members have also alleged negligence against two firms of solicitors -- LK Shields and Matheson Ormsby Prentice -- in relation to alleged advice concerning the deal and are claiming indemnities. The defendants deny the claims.
Yesterday, Paul Sreenan, for LK Shields, asked Mr Lynch why he hadn't told his solicitor Larry Shields in May 2009 of a phone conversation with Mr Conlan's associate, Conor Gunne -- who was involved in organising the AIB loan for the Lynch family -- when Mr Lynch says he made it clear that the loan had to be on a non-recourse basis.
But Mr Lynch said Mr Shields, who had been his solicitor for more than 20 years, was well aware of the type of loan on which he had insisted.
Mr Sreenan suggested that parts of Mr Lynch's witness statement, his evidence and correspondence about the loan suggested that these were not consistent with the Lynch family's claim that they always understood the AIB loan would be non-recourse.
Mr Lynch denied that and said he would have left the deal "like a bat out of hell" if he believed AIB could have recourse to him and his family.
He said he had not asked Mr Conlan about the terms offered by AIB as Mr Conlan had said from the very beginning that there was nothing for Mr Lynch to worry about. Mr Conlan was a "prized client" of AIB and would give him any money he wanted, he said.
Mr Lynch said the Waterford deal was "a minor detail" in his life in early 2007 as there were a lot of other things going on.
The case continues.