Friday 24 May 2019

Ahern told to explain lack of charges against disgraced solicitors

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

THREE years ago they became household names when they plunged the legal profession into disgrace.

But no files have been sent to the Director of Public Prosecution on rogue solicitors Michael Lynn and Thomas Byrne, as garda investigations are ongoing into the two.

Now Fine Gael TD Alan Shatter, who is tipped to become the next justice minister, has called on outgoing minister Dermot Ahern to explain the "indefensible delay" in their prosecution.

Mr Lynn and Mr Byrne were struck off the solicitors' roll in 2008 by order of the High Court after it emerged that they abused the system of solicitors' undertakings to draw down multiple mortgages.

Both men had also used their clients' funds to support their opulent lifestyles.

The Law Society, the ruling body for solicitors, has paid out almost €15m as a result.

In 2007 High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly and Mr Justice Richard Johnston, the former president of the High Court, directed that papers on both men be sent to the garda fraud squad.

Last night, Mr Shatter said that Mr Ahern should publicly state whether garda investigations into the alleged activities have been completed.

"If the garda investigations have been completed into the alleged activities of disgraced solicitors Michael Lynn and Thomas Byrne, the minister should state when papers were forwarded to the DPP," he said.

"He should also clarify whether any decision has yet been made to initiate appropriate prosecutions and, if not, whether and when such prosecutions will be initiated."

Mr Lynn, who is missing but is believed to be living in the Portuguese Algarve, was struck off on May 23, 2008.

Gardai are still conducting interviews with bank officials and those who invested monies with Mr Lynn, who was fined a record €2m.

Mr Byrne was struck off June 16, 2008, and fined €1m. Mr Byrne has cooperated with gardai but no charges have been brought against the Dubliner.

Between them, they owe the banks more than €120m.

"These individuals were first reported to the gardai by the Law Society more than three years ago," he said.

"It is inexplicable that to date no known criminal prosecutions have been initiated."

Irish Independent

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