Friday 24 November 2017

Corruption trial is told of €6m deals by landowners

Conor Kane

THREE landowners have told the trial of a property developer accused of making corrupt payments to a politician how they did deals with the developer's consortium in 2006 to sell parcels of land for sums totalling more than €6m.

Two of the landowners pocketed non-refundable deposits worth €300,000 each.

The contracts were made in 2006 between the landowners and the ORS Partnership, a consortium which included businessman Michael Ryan.

Mr Ryan (60), with an address at The Sweepstakes, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, denies three charges of making corrupt payments totalling €80,000 to former Fine Gael town councillor Fred Forsey in 2006.

The trial heard yesterday that in early August 2006, Mr Forsey's bank account was overdrawn by €239.

By August 25, a lodgement had been made in the account worth €60,000. A withdrawal of €8,000 was then made, along with drafts from the account worth €3,370 and €13,190.

By October 10, the account was down to €336 in credit but that day another lodgement was made of €10,000, with the words "Michael Ryan" appearing on Fred Forsey's statement, along with a lodgement of over €33,000 from Start Mortgages.

A further lodgement was made by "Michael Ryan", for €10,000 on December 22.

Mr Ryan told gardai in 2009 that he agreed to loan €70,000 to Mr Forsey in 2006 for the purchase of two houses, and another €10,000 for "extras". He never got it back.

He denied it had anything to do with land he wanted to develop at Ballygeoghegan, as alleged by the State.

In court yesterday, three landowners gave evidence.

Eddie O'Brien said he was approached by a member of the consortium, Brian Shanley, and eventually agreed to sell 27.4 acres for almost €2.2m.

This was conditional on the partnership securing planning permission for industrial units and housing but a non-refundable deposit of €300,000 was paid to Mr O'Brien.

DEZONED

Liam Whelan told the court he made a deal for another piece of land for €2.5m, with another non-refundable deposit of €300,000 handed over.

The land was "dezoned" in 2008 on the orders of the then-environment minister John Gormley.

The third, Billy Queally, said he agreed to sell a piece of land for €1.55m.

A non-refundable deposit of €155,000 was part of the deal but this wasn't to be paid until the end of 2006.

This was reviewed between himself and Mr Ryan and put off until 2007, and Mr Queally pulled out of the deal in March of 2008.

The trial continues today.

Irish Independent

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