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Friday 19 September 2014

Bank believed Byrne earned millions from French fashion houses, court told

Conor Gallagher

Published 25/10/2013 | 02:00

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Thomas Byrne

A BANK believed former solicitor Thomas Byrne had a €4m annual income as a consultant for French fashion houses while assessing him as a commercial loan candidate.

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The claims were made when Mr Byrne was applying for a €9m loan from Irish Intercontinental Bank (IIB), which is now known as KBC. He told them he wanted the money to invest in a deal with property developer John Kelly.

The loans were secured against one development property, 16 residential and three commercial properties. The trial has previously heard that many of these holdings were already in use as collateral against other loans with different banks.

Mr Byrne (47), of Walkinstown Road, Crumlin, is accused of theft and fraud offences totalling €51.8m. The charges allege he transferred clients' homes into his name and then used them as collateral for property loans.

DECEPTION

He has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 51 counts of theft, forgery, using forged documents and deception between 2004 and 2007.

Former head of collections with KBC, Barry Keely, told prosecuting counsel Remy Farrell that the accused was introduced to the bank in 2007 by Mr Kelly who was a long-standing customer.

Mr Keely confirmed that IIB had been "pursuing" Mr Byrne's custom in the months before they secured him as a customer.

Bank documents state that they viewed Mr Byrne as an "avid property investor" who also operated a solicitor's practice which employed 15 staff. The documents say he earned €1.5m a year from the practice.

The bank also believed the accused ran a consultancy business for French fashion houses Prada, Chloe and Roberto Cavali.

The bank stated this provided an annual income of €4m but that there were no documents proving this yet as the business was in operation for less than 12 months.

IIB assessed Mr Byrne as having a net worth of €32m.

Mr Keely said the loan application was processed and the bank hired a solicitor to ensure Mr Byrne owned the properties he was going to use as collateral and that they were unencumbered. The trial continues before Judge Patrick McCartan and a jury of seven men and five women.

Irish Independent

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