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Monday 16 September 2019

Fraud squad to instigate probe as Lynn 'swamped' with actions

Dearbhail McDonald and Anne-Marie Walsh

THE Garda fraud squad is poised to investigate the financial affairs of solicitor-cum-property developer Michael Lynn.

In the first sign that the Mayo-born lawyer may face criminal charges arising from an alleged €70m property scam, High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly has said that he simply could not ignore claims by First Active Plc regarding Mr Lynn.

The judge will decide on Monday whether to forward the details of the case to the Director of the National Bureau of Fraud Investigation.

A whistleblower, a married mother of seven who worked as a solicitor in Mr Lynn's practice, also claimed yesterday that her signatures were "forged" on certain documents and that she was told to "mind her own business" when she enquired about Mr Lynn's dealings with banks.

Fiona McAleenan, who denies she was a partner in Lynn's legal firm, Capel Law, resigned after being told to mind her own business and she then complained to the Law Society, prompting an investigation into the biggest legal scandal in recent times.

In yet another dramatic twist in the ongoing Lynn saga -- there are now 55 sets of High Court proceedings against the solicitor -- two more investors claimed yesterday that they feared Lynn had "systematically contrived to fob off inquiries" about completing property titles and had used the same properties as security to gain advances.

Yesterday, a barrister representing Mr Lynn pleaded for more time "on a human level" to deal with the amount of litigation against the solicitor as he revealed Lynn's legal team was "swamped" by High Court actions.

"The volume is just extraordinary," said Gabriel Gavigan BL, responding to requests by more banks to have their cases entered into the commercial list. "Mr Lynn is dealing with a multitude of actions."

On Monday, Judge Kelly will decide whether to send legal papers arising from civil proceedings between Mr Lynn and First Active to the director of the National Bureau of Fraud Investigation.

Judge Kelly said that, having read claims by First Active plc -- including claims that Mr Lynn owed it more than €5.1m -- that he was considering whether such matters "might warrant investigation by those charged with the criminal law".

Judge Kelly noted claims that registration of securities were delayed due to failures by Mr Lynn, including failures to produce certificates or comply with undertakings; and that Mr Lynn may have sold on three properties without discharging mortgages. The judge said his was a civil court. He said Mr Lynn had made no admission relating to the affidavits, but said the court "could not blind itself" to affidavits sworn by First Active.

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