Saturday 14 December 2019

Ex-barrister in garda probe over 'mortgage debt deal'

Mr Russell was struck off the barristers' roll in 2012. Stock picture
Mr Russell was struck off the barristers' roll in 2012. Stock picture

Shane Phelan and Tom Brady

A disgraced former barrister is being investigated by gardaí amid claims that he failed to pass on client money to a bank to settle a mortgage debt.

Detectives are examining a complaint against Patrick Russell, who the Kings Inns disbarred in 2012.

Mr Russell has been acting as a financial advisor and it is claimed that he received €23,000 from a couple who hired him to help them "do a deal" on their mortgage arrears.

Although the cash was paid by the couple into a nominated account, it is alleged that it never reached the bank.

A complaint was subsequently made by the bank to gardaí and has been under investigation for several weeks.

Mr Russell was previously accused of fraud by music duo Foster and Allen in 2011.

They claimed in court that they each paid him €50,000 to settle their tax liabilities and that he supplied them with a letter from Revenue, saying their affairs were in order.

But they claimed that Revenue did not receive the money and the letters were forgeries.

They were subsequently hit with a combined bill of over €6m for unpaid taxes and penalties.

In the latest case, a couple who co-own a business in Co Kildare were introduced to Mr Russell by an associate after they had got into difficulty with their personal mortgage.

It is claimed that Mr Russell met with them on the premises of their bank, along with another individual.

The bank in question maintains that its debt-management division was not party to the meeting and that it was not involved in any debt deal.

It is claimed that the couple paid €23,000 into a nominated account, but the cash did not find its way to the bank.

Mr Russell, with an address in Rathcoole, Co Dublin, has a colourful past. He was once financial adviser to the so-called 'Black Widow', Catherine Nevin, who was convicted in 2000 of murdering her husband Tom Nevin at his pub, Jack White's in Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow. Mr Russell was a key witness for the State in her trial.

He quit the Law Library in 2007 in the middle of a fitness to practise inquiry by the Bar Council, the ruling body for barristers.

The same year, he was briefly jailed for contempt of court by Mr Justice Kelly in a breach of contract dispute relating to a Dublin property.

In a separate case in 2007, Mr Justice Peter Kelly said "there appeared to be little doubt" that Mr Russell had committed a fraud while acting as a tax consultant.

The judge said that Russell "received large sums to be paid to the Revenue to settle tax liabilities but the Revenue never received those monies".

In June 2011, Mr Russell was arrested and brought before the High Court in connection with the alleged misappropriation of €580,000 given to him by professional musician Patrick Griffin for purposes including clearing his tax liabilities.

He accepted that he owed Mr Griffin money. The sum he received was to negotiate a tax settlement and invest in insurance funds, but it had been lost. He said he would repay it when he had it.

Mr Russell was struck off the barristers' roll in 2012.

Irish Independent

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