Retired garda denies seeking a 'quick buck' in €10.6m deal
A RETIRED garda superintendent has denied that he got involved in an alleged land-deal scam in an attempt to make "a quick buck".
Peter Wheeler is among several investors suing a former election running mate of Brian Cowen and ex-councillor, Gerard Killally, and others over the 2007 land deal in Co Offaly.
Investors claim that Mr Killally was behind the alleged scam, under which 32.4 acres at Mount Lucas, Daingean, were sold to them for €10.6m in May 2007 when, that same day, Mr Killally had acquired the lands via a company for just €4.7m.
It is claimed that Mr Killally represented to investors that the lands were available for sale from his father-in-law Frank Mulligan and his (Mulligan's) partners and that Mr Killally was a co-investor.
It is also alleged that Mr Killally set up a scheme to buy the lands from Mr Mulligan and partners for €4.7m and then sell them on the same day for €10.6m to the investors, of which he claimed to be one.
The plaintiffs claim that Mr Killally made a secret profit from the deal and have sued him and others, including a firm of solicitors, claiming some €10m in losses.
Under cross-examination on the second day of the case, Mr Wheeler told the court yesterday that solicitor John Bourke, of Bourke & Co, Walkinstown, Dublin, and others had indicated in early 2007 that a warehouse shed on the site was not included in the lands being sold.
Mr Wheeler denied suggestions by Mark Connaughton, for Bourke & Co, that he knew Mr Killally had a beneficial interest in the lands.
Mr Connaughton suggested that the purpose of the investors was to get planning permission for the bulk of the lands, that they knew Mr Killally was a Fianna Fail councillor likely to get planning and the lands would then be "flipped on" as quickly as possible.
Mr Wheeler denied that and said he was told by Mr Killally and others that there was some €4.5m in unconditional contracts for sale of part of the lands and the investors would have the option to sell additional sites or sell or develop the remaining part of the lands.
He disagreed that the value of the site lay in the planning permission that was obtained in February 2007.
Mr Wheeler said John Bourke was introduced by Mr Killally to him and other investors at a meeting in March 2007 as their solicitor in relation to the deal.
He denied a suggestion by Mr Connaughton that he was wrong about Mr Bourke being solicitor for the investors.
He agreed that he had never contacted Mr Bourke after that March meeting about the land deal.
Mr Wheeler, two of his brothers, six other investors and two companies are suing Mr Killally, Bourke & Co, a number of financial-advice companies and others over the May 2007 deal.
The defendants include a number of persons who also invested in the deal themselves.
The action continues.