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Saturday 30 August 2014

Fugitive €80m-debt lawyer Lynn out of reach in Brazil

Laura Noonan and Tom Brady

Published 02/10/2012 | 05:00

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Struck-off solicitor Michael Lynn and his wife Brid
Fortaleza, the on-the-run solicitor's last-known location in Brazil

FUGITIVE solicitor Michael Lynn has placed himself completely beyond the reach of gardai by getting residential status in Brazil.

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The on-the-run lawyer, pictured, has used the birth of his son to secure the permanent Brazilian visa.

Documents obtained by this newspaper show the lawyer was granted the visa in June because he has a child who was born there.

Mr Lynn is facing dozens of fraud-related charges after fleeing Ireland five years ago, owing more than ¿80m to several financial institutions.

However, the international warrant gardai have obtained for his arrest is not recognised in Brazil.

This means the 42-year-old will be able to avoid arrest as long as he stays in the South American country.

And having this visa ensures he will be able to stay there indefinitely.

Ireland does not have a bilateral extradition treaty with Brazil and Mr Lynn cannot be touched unless he opts to leave.

All parents of Brazilian-born children are entitled to a Brazilian visa, although it can take several months to process.

Brazilian government records show Mr Lynn and his wife, Brid Murphy, were granted permanent visas on June 26 on the basis of having a child born there.

It is understood their son was born in Brazil about two years ago.

Prior to getting the permanent visa, Mr Lynn had been using short-term tourist visas.

This meant he could only stay in the country for six weeks at a time before having to leave again.

Sources close to the former solicitor, who was struck off over his activities, confirmed he had no plans to return to Ireland.

After his disappearance in December 2007, Mr Lynn travelled initially to Portugal and Hungary.

But a former associate, Bulgarian property consultant Osman Oktay, said Mr Lynn had spoken at the time of ultimately fleeing to South America.

Mr Lynn left behind scores of furious investors, many of whom lost tens of thousands of euro each, when he left Ireland.

The investors lost their money after attempting to buy property in Portugal, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Hungary through his Kendar company.

He subsequently claimed he would try to make ensure investors got their money back, or got the properties they had paid for.

However, Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan, who lost €48,000 he had paid for an apartment in Bansko, a ski resort in Bulgaria, said he hadn't "heard a word since".

Warrant

"It doesn't look (to me) as if Michael Lynn has made any effort to repay people," he added.

Gardai secured an international arrest warrant earlier this year -- following a protracted investigation -- when the Director of Public Prosecutions finally gave the go-ahead for criminal charges.

The garda inquiry had suffered significant delays because some financial institutions which were scammed out of money by Mr Lynn had been slow in lodging formal complaints against him.

The former solicitor had agreed to meet gardai at a location in Europe in July last year, but the meeting fell through.

Contacts with him later broke down. At the time, gardai were unable by law to seek his extradition to face questioning over fraud allegations.

But the subsequent decision by the DPP to bring charges paved the way for the issuing of the international arrest warrant, which has been circulated to international police forces by Interpol. Prior to that the only warrant in place was for contempt of court and this could not be enforced outside the jurisdiction.Mr Lynn was struck off the solicitors' register for fraudulently obtaining multiple mortgages against single properties. The Law Society imposed a fine of €2m, which he has not yet paid.

Mr Lynn and his wife began travelling between Europe and Brazil soon after they left.

They were listed as owners of a real estate company, Golino, in the north eastern Brazilian city of Fortaleza in June 2008.

However, a request for a work permit was turned down in September of that year.

A former associate of Mr Lynn's told the Irish Independent the Mayoman had not been seen in Fortaleza since 2009.

Mr Lynn's current location in Brazil is unknown.

Despite the move there, his wife is believed to be still conducting business in Eastern Europe.

Irish Independent

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