TAM investors give evidence at tribunal
SEVERAL witnesses gave evidence this week about their dealings with Tuskar Asset Management (TAM), a property investment fund spearheaded by accountant Alan Hynes which collapsed in 2009 with debts of over €50m.
"At no stage did I allow him to sign guarantees," an investor in a property scheme run by Wexford-based Mr Hynes told an accounting tribunal in Dublin yesterday at the headquarters of Chartered Accountants Ireland.
Oral surgeon Darren McCourt was giving evidence at a Chartered Accountants Disciplinary Board (CARB) tribunal, which is examining alleged breaches of the Chartered Accountants Ireland code of ethics by Mr Hynes.
CARB first received a complaint about Mr Hynes in 2009. It withdrew his practising certificate a year later.
Mr McCourt, of Strabane, Co Tyrone, told the tribunal he had signed a power of attorney document in favour of Mr Hynes in early 2006 but had not understood that it would be used when signing guarantees for banks to secure loans. He was told the document was necessary for administrative reasons, he said.
Mr McCourt invested money in two projects led by Mr Hynes, he said – a proposed development in Maynooth, Co Kildare, and an apartment development at the Laurels in Dundrum, Dublin. He was later held liable for loans attached to the latter development by Bank of Scotland Ireland, he said, which he was not aware he had guaranteed.
Mr McCourt was cross-examined on his understanding of the power of attorney document. "You had an obligation to inform yourself," said Alan Cormack, counsel for Mr Hynes.
The barrister said that Mr McCourt was a professional man and that by signing the power of attorney he had given "carte blanche" to others to enter into commitments on his behalf.
The barrister alleged the witness was trying to make Mr Hynes a "convenient scapegoat" for an investment that had not been successful. Mr McCourt said he did not accept that.
Mr McCourt said he accepted his responsibility but said there was also a duty of care on Mr Hynes and he had not been supplied with information and important documents relating to the loans.
Wexford builder Jim Boggan also gave evidence this week. He said he "lost everything" as a result of investments made via Mr Hynes.
His financial situation had become so perilous, he said, that his mother had changed her will so that he would not receive her house after her death – "because the banks would have taken it".
The tribunal is not likely to conclude until April at the earliest. It began in February but has been peppered with delays amid difficulties in finding hearing times that suit all involved.