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Monday 22 September 2014

Solicitor jailed for deceiving bank to lend €9m for land now worth €30k

Struck-off John Duffy sent false letters to Investec on behalf of co-accused

Aoife Nic Ardghail

Published 07/04/2014 | 12:44

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A struck-off solicitor has been jailed for two years for his role in deceiving a bank to lend €9 million for land now worth €30,000.

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Ex-solicitor John Duffy (44) sent false letters to Investec Bank on behalf of co-accused Tony McAuliffe (78) to get a loan for 55 acres of land in Co. Offaly in 2007.

McAuliffe received a fully suspended two and a half year sentence for his role. Judge Leonie Reynolds accepted McAuliffe has borderline intellectual functioning and deteriorating health.

McAuliffe, a former jockey of Furze, Kildare and Duffy, of Clogheen, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dishonestly obtaining a loan from Investec Bank with intent of making gain in March, 2007. They have no previous convictions. 

Through Duffy, McAuliffe promised the bank he had a buyer with a €7 million deposit for the land and its sand and gravel deposits. The plan was to sell the property to this buyer, a company called Conway Clarke, for €17 million.

Judge Reynolds commented that Investec Bank’s failure to carry out “rudimentary” background checks was reflective of the “lax lending practices” of financial institutions at that time.

She suggested the bank could have exposed the fraud if it had conducted such checks on the parties involved. 

Detective Sergeant Pat Linehan had earlier revealed that Conway Clarke was a company set up with McAuliffe’s daughter and a family friend acting as directors.

Judge Reynolds suspended the final 12 months of Duffy’s sentence, taking into account his previous good character, co-operation and remorse. 

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