Corruption case delayed as developer hospitalised
A HIGH Court case involving millionaire businessman and developer Jim Kennedy was adjourned yesterday because he was undergoing tests in hospital after he became ill in garda custody following his arrest on Tuesday.
Mr Kennedy was arrested on Dublin's Arran Quay after he left court on the first day of a civil case taken by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) against Jackson Way Properties Ltd (JWPL).
Mr Kennedy is a director of Jackson Way and the CAB is alleging the company had been unjustly enriched as a result of the rezoning of land in Carrickmines, Dublin, in 1997, contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Act.
His arrest by CAB officers related to two corrupt payments allegedly made to councillors, and these matters were also the subject of the civil proceedings, counsel for JWPL Martin Hayden told the court yesterday.
Mr Hayden said he needed to take instructions from him, particularly as to whether his side might bring an action for abuse of power or interference with justice by the CAB. Two CAB officers arrested the 63-year-old property developer for questioning about alleged bribery and corruption and he was taken to Irishtown garda station for questioning.
At around 4am he complained of feeling unwell and a doctor was called. Mr Kennedy was taken to St Vincent's hospital for tests and remained under observation last night.
He was arrested at 4.15pm on Wednesday and was questioned by gardai from 5pm until midnight. Questioning was then suspended until after breakfast but this was extended further after he was taken to hospital. Gardai have been trying to interview Mr Kennedy for the past seven years about the allegation but he lives abroad and did not return to Dublin until he was due to give evidence in the High Court case.
When the case was due to resume yesterday morning, Mr Hayden told Mr Justice Kevin Feeney that to say the arrest of Mr Kennedy caused a "spot of bother" was an understatement.
Following an adjournment, Mr Hayden informed the judge that Mr Kennedy was still in hospital and he had been unable to speak to him on the advice of doctors.
Mr Hayden asked that the matter be put back to tomorrow and the judge agreed, saying he could be updated on Mr Kennedy's situation later today.
The judge also told Mr Hayden if he wanted an order that gardai could not further question Mr Kennedy when he left hospital, as his questioning had only been suspended while he was there, then he would have to make a formal, written application to the court. This could be done today if required, the judge said.
The judge also rejected Mr Hayden's application to lift a freezing order on the sale of part of the Carrickmines land owned by JWPL because the court heard on Tuesday that the case was now only concerned with unjust enrichment in relation to around 38 of the original 108 acres involved in this case. The judge said he would deal with that issue as part of the full hearing of the case. Diarmuid McGuinness, counsel for CAB, told the court yesterday new valuation put an acre of land at €50,000 and an industrially-zoned acre at €200,000.
This meant the actual unjust enrichment valuation of the 17 acres today was €2.6m rather that the €5.2m put on the land on Tuesday.