Wednesday 18 September 2019

CAB blocks sale of ?60m parcel at Carrickmines

Ann O'Loughlin

THE Criminal Assets Bureau has blocked the sale of a multi-million-euro parcel of land at Carrickmines in south Dublin. The land has featured in the Mahon Tribunal.

THE Criminal Assets Bureau has blocked the sale of a multi-million-euro parcel of land at Carrickmines in south Dublin.

The land has featured in the Mahon Tribunal.

Now the possibility of any resale of the land, which soared in value after a controversial rezoning decision, has been prevented by the High Court.

A so-called freezing order was granted which prevents any sale.

The order was sought by CAB after a lengthy investigation into suspected breaches of the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The court heard that the total value of the 107 acres in Carrickmines, Dublin - if they had continued to be zoned agricultural - would have been around ?7.9m.

But after rezoning to industrial, 17 acres alone were immediately valued at ?61m.

The land was owned by Jackson Way Properties Ltd.

The company is linked to businessman/ developer James Kennedy, who had been involved in the running of an amusement arcade at Westmoreland Street, Dublin, and Isle of Man based solicitor John Caldwell.

It is contended that the ?53m increase in value of the 17 acres, which were rezoned in 1997, represents corrupt enrichment under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The order by the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan, prevents Jackson Way Properties Ltd from disposing of or otherwise dealing with 107 acres of land at Carrickmines in South Dublin.

It has been secured by CAB under a provision of the Proceeds of Crime Act and is understood to be part of a wider investigation.

CAB chief, Det Chief Supt Felix McKenna, said in an affidavit to the court that it was his belief that the rezoning decision on December 16, 1997, of Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council was procured by corrupt payment to county councillors.

"These corrupt payments were made by Mr Frank Dunlop in furtherance of an agreement with James Kennedy, whereby Mr Dunlop would receive the commercial value of one rezoned acre of the Carrickmines lands if he successfully arranged the rezoning of the property," Mr McKenna said. Yesterday's application to the court follows an investigation by CAB officers into that rezoning decision .

It also follows interviews with former lobbyist Frank Dunlop and various county councillors.

The increase in value was claimed to "directly result" from corrupt conduct.

It was submitted in court documents that the lands in December 2005 were worth ?61m, an increase of ?53.7m in the value of the lands over their agricultural use value on that date.

The lands were rezoned to industrial use by 13 votes in favour of doing so to 11 against.

Mr Dunlop, according to Det Chief Supt McKenna, made a series of cash payments, which the CAB chief believed to have been bribes, to a number of county councillors in order to secure the passing of the rezoning vote in December 1997. Det Chief Supt McKenna said it is his belief that Jackson Way Properties Ltd "has derived specified pecuniary or other advantage or benefit as a result of or in connection with corrupt conduct". He said he based this on information he had gathered in investigations.

He claimed efforts had been made by the beneficial owners of Jackson Way Properties Ltd to obscure the real ownership of the company.

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