Former solicitor Michael Lynn has spun a “web of deceit”, created confusion and told the jury a “fabricated pack of lies” during his multi-million euro theft trial, the jury has been told.
Three-and-a-half months after the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court trial opened in February, closing speeches started today.
In the prosecution closing speech to the jury, Patrick McGrath SC said Mr Lynn had exploited a weakness in the mortgage application process whereby the banks trusted solicitors and believed a solicitor could be relied upon to ensure their security was put in place.
He told the jury that a key part of the case is the credibility of Mr Lynn.
He told the jury he was “surprised” and perhaps they were surprised that in the last two weeks they were all “in the middle of a charade”.
He told the jury that if it believed what Mr Lynn was saying was reasonably true, then Mr Lynn was entitled to an acquittal.
“I'm going to seek to persuade you that what he has told you here is a fabricated pack of lies,” Mr McGrath said.
Mr Lynn (53) of Millbrook Court, Red Cross, Co Wicklow is on trial accused of the theft of around €27m from seven financial institutions.
He has pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of theft in Dublin between October 23, 2006 and April 20, 2007.
It is the prosecution case that Mr Lynn obtained multiple mortgages on the same properties in a situation where banks were unaware that other institutions were also providing finance.
The financial institutions involved are Bank of Ireland, National Irish Bank (later known as Danske Bank), Irish Life and Permanent, Ulster Bank, ACC Bank, Bank of Scotland Ireland and Irish Nationwide Building Society.
Mr Lynn has told his trial that the banks were aware he had multiple loans on the same properties and that this was “custom and practice” among bankers in Celtic Tiger Ireland.
He has said he had “secret deals” with a number of bankers, who gave him permission to use the loan money for his property developments abroad.
He told the court he and former Irish Nationwide chief executive Michael Fingleton were involved in a secret profit share agreement in relation to a property development in Portugal.
Mr McGrath put it to the jury that the “insinuation” by the defence that Mr Lynn was disadvantaged in the trial was a “fiction”.
He told the jury that trial judge Martin Nolan has been managing the case for years and has heard a number of applications for adjournments and in relation to disclosures.
“Contrary to what would appear to be suggested at certain points, Mr Lynn hasn't suddenly landed in this trial,” Mr McGrath said.
This was all part of Mr Lynn's attempts to create confusion, Mr McGrath said, adding that Mr Lynn was a “master” in doing that.
Mr McGrath told the jury that “for years and years and years” Mr Lynn never made anyone aware of the alleged secret deals and secret profit deals with senior bankers.
Counsel said Mr Lynn avoided being interviewed, “fled to Brazil and resisted extradition tooth and nail”.
The jury was told Mr Lynn tried to divert blame onto the courts, the prosecution, Michael Fingleton, the late Sean Fitzpatrick, the Brazilian authorities, the Irish authorities - “the world and his wife”.
“None of these people are to blame,” Mr McGrath said.
“The person who is to blame and the person who refused to take ownership of the fact he stole this money in 2007 is the man sitting in the dock and no-one else.”
Mr McGrath said despite the defence “moaning” about disclosures, it is accepted that everything the prosecution had in relation to this case was disclosed and that no effort was ever made by Mr Lynn to compel witnesses to come to court.
“This is not Catch Me If You Can,” Mr McGrath said. “This is not cat and mouse.”
Mr Lynn had put forward his defence and he had an obligation to engage with it but he has not done so because “it is a mirage”, the jury was told.
Mr McGrath told the jury that Mr Lynn was “not a simple man at sea” or a “small bit player”.
He was “clearly a very clever man” who was involved in property development on a substantial scale.
In relation to how the offences could have happened, Mr McGrath put it to the jury that they had heard Mr Lynn was unable to get finance in certain countries where he wanted to build developments and “make a fortune”.
“So he siphons the money off,” Mr McGrath said.
“He gets multiple mortgages on properties unknown to anyone else.”
Mr Lynn exploited and manipulated what could retrospectively be seen as a weakness in the system in order to get the money, Mr McGrath said.
He misused this “naive system” whereby the banks trusted solicitors and believed a solicitor would be “an honest player” and could be relied upon to ensure their security was put in place, the jury was told.
“If all his ducks lined up in a row and everything came to fruition, at some stage he might pay off all this but that does not excuse what he has done,” Mr McGrath said. “It's still theft.”
Mr McGrath said forged statements of affairs were given to the banks as part of Mr Lynn's loan applications and that Mr Lynn “deliberately and calculatedly misrepresented the value of his assets” to his advantage.
“They are deceitful and not composed by some unknown acolyte,” Mr McGrath said. “He was actively involved in their preparation.”
The forged statements of affairs were “part and parcel of the web of deceit he was spinning,” Mr McCarthy said.
The prosecution closing speech continues, with defence expected to make their closing speech afterwards.