Wednesday 25 April 2018

Politician's ex-wife tells corruption trial of cash splurge

Ex-councillor Fred Forsey Jnr
Ex-councillor Fred Forsey Jnr
Developer Michael Ryan
Jenny Forsey, who is separated from Fred Forsey Jnr

Conor Kane

THE former wife of a politician alleged to have received €80,000 in corrupt payments from a developer has told a court how he splashed out on a family holiday and new furniture at a time when she believed their finances "weren't good".

The evidence was heard on the opening day of the trial of property developer Michael Ryan (60), of The Sweepstakes, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, and Al Eile Stud, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, who denies three charges that he made corrupt payments totalling €80,000 to a politician.

The State alleges he made the payments in August, October and December of 2006 as a "present" to then-Dungarvan town council member Fred Forsey Jnr to induce him to secure the rezoning of land outside Dungarvan from agricultural to residential and industrial use.

The politician's ex-wife, Jenny Forsey, told Waterford Circuit Court yesterday that their finances were in a poor state in summer 2006 but that by the end of that August they were going on a family holiday to Rome and her then husband was buying new furniture and carpets.

She and Mr Forsey married in August of 1990 and had three children. They were socialising in The Moorings Pub in Dungarvan in July of 2006 when she saw him speaking with Michael Ryan.

FINANCES

Asked by Alex Owens, prosecuting, how the family finances were at the time, she said: "They weren't good."

Their house at Pinewood Lawn in Dungarvan was mortgaged with Permanent TSB and they remortgaged it for an extra €30,000 to €35,000 later in 2006 with Start Mortgages.

They had no holidays arranged by August of 2006, she said, as "we wouldn't have had the finances".

But on August 23 or 24 she found out they were going to Rome on holiday, as a family, and in the restaurant at Cork Airport she saw Fred with "a substantial amount of money" in his wallet.

On their return "he seemed to have more money" and "he started to buy things for the house", Ms Forsey told the court, such as carpets, a three-piece suite and other furniture.

They separated in autumn of 2006 and she later found out that Forsey had a girlfriend.

He borrowed €10,000 from his estranged wife, which she had received as her share of the re-mortgage money, saying he needed to buy a car for his driving instruction business, and things got "heated" when he didn't pay it back when he said he would, Ms Forsey said.

She agreed there was "a showdown" on December 22, 2006, outside the house, and that she "threatened him".

He then started paying the money back "in dribs and drabs", starting with €2,000 through the letterbox, another €4,000 on December 29 and the rest in January.

In June of 2007 he "disappeared" to Australia.

Evidence was heard from retired superintendent Tom O'Grady of a statement made by Michael Ryan to gardai, in June of 2009, after he heard that investigations were being made into bank transactions.

He said Mr Forsey approached him in July of 2006 and said he wanted to buy two houses in Dungarvan and sell them on before the contracts closed.

Mr Forsey asked him for a loan of €70,000 which he would pay back when he sold the houses, Michael Ryan told gardai, so he agreed to loan him this money. Mr Forsey asked for a further €10,000 in December for "extras" for the houses, and this was also paid.

The money had nothing to do with land outside Dungarvan which Mr Ryan wanted to develop, the businessman said in his statement. He denied to gardai that Forsey was a "buddy" of his and said he was "anxious" to get the money back. Fred had "disappeared" and he didn't know where he was.

The trial continues today.

Irish Independent

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