Laois Nationalist – Former Michael Lynn legal executive often forged his signature, court hears
Sonya McLean and Isabel Hayes
A legal executive told a multi-million dollar theft trial that she often signed her employer Michael Lynn’s signature on various supporting documents related to bank loans.
Elizabeth Doyle, who worked as Mr Lynn’s legal executive at the time in question, told the former lawyer’s trial that she did not ask questions because it was a ‘busy office’ and ‘he there was a fear there.”
“Michael Lynn would have been a nice guy, but there was another aspect of Michael Lynn that there would have been a scare factor,” she told the court on Friday.
Mr Lynn (53) is on trial in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, charged with the theft of around 27 million euros from seven financial institutions.
Mr Lynn, of Millbrook Court, Red Cross, Co Wicklow, pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of theft in Dublin between October 23, 2006 and April 20, 2007.
According to the prosecution, Mr Lynn obtained several mortgages on the same properties in a situation where the banks were unaware that other institutions were also providing financing.
The financial institutions involved are Bank of Ireland Mortgages Bank Ltd, Danske Bank, Irish Life and Permanent, Ulster Bank, ACC Bank PLC, Bank of Scotland Ireland Ltd and Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS).
Ms Doyle told the jury that she worked for Mr Lynn as a legal executive of his company Kendar Global Properties Ltd. After receiving various documents, she recognized that a signature claiming to be Michael Lynn was her own handwriting.
Ms Doyle told Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, that she had signed the documentation “under the instructions” of Mr Lynn. She also confirmed that some signatures, believed to be those of attorney Fiona McAleenan, were “my handwriting.”
Ms Doyle said she noticed when signing some documents that some of the properties listed “appeared on other apps as well”.
She agreed she had raised an issue when she saw it, but told Mr McGrath that at the time she was struggling in her personal life and her ‘spirit was everywhere’.
“I was under extreme pressure,” Ms Doyle said.
She agreed that on other documents, a signature of Bríd Murphy, Mr Lynn’s wife, was “my handwriting”.
She agreed that another letter signed by Fiona McAleenan was “my signature”. She acknowledged that she had not spoken to Ms. McAleenan about it herself. She testified at trial that Mr Lynn said he would speak to Ms McAleenan about it.
When Mr McGrath asked her if she believed Mr Lynn was going to register the various properties on which he had taken out loans, Ms Doyle replied: ‘I did’.
“Did you trust him with his dealings with the bank and Mrs. McAleenan?”
“I did,” replied Mrs. Doyle
Paul Comiskey O’Keeffe BL, defending Mr Lynn, told Ms Doyle that her client accepts that she had his consent and authority to sign his name on the documentation.
“Was that a general policy?” asked the lawyer.
“That’s right,” Ms. Doyle replied. She said she could not remember “how this policy was implemented”.
Asked if there were any typical circumstances in which this could happen, Ms Doyle said she could not recall but agreed that ‘it could happen because Mr Lynn was out of jurisdiction”.
Ms Doyle said she did not recall exactly how Mr Lynn’s instructions were given to her. “
Sometimes verbally, sometimes over the phone. It was hectic so I don’t remember how it happened,” she said.
“You just repeated that mantra, ‘it was on his instructions,’ but you can’t repeat any details about it,” Mr Comiskey O’Keeffe said.
“Motivated and ambitious”
Ms. Doyle admitted that it was possible that some documents she had earlier identified as having been signed by her on behalf of Mr. Lynn were in fact signed by Mr. Lynn himself.
She said she couldn’t remember if she had ever signed on for Michael Lynn while Fiona McAleenan was present.
Ms Doyle agreed with the defense lawyer that she had socialized with Mr Lynn, that several members of his family had been employed by him at various stages and that she had asked him to sing at her wedding.
Regarding his claim that he had “another side”, Mr. Comiskey O’Keeffe explained to Ms. Doyle that Mr. Lynn would say that he was driven and ambitious, that he expected the same work ethic from on the part of its employees and that it in particular has benefited greatly.
Mr Comiskey O’Keeffe told Ms Doyle she was paid €95,000 a year, but she said she could not remember how much she was paid.
“I know I was paid well,” she said. She did not accept that she receive a bonus of €50,000 per year.
When asked if she and her husband had any investment properties, Ms Doyle replied: ‘We had one investment property, sorry two investment properties.
The court was seized with documents relating to a €240,000 mortgage that Ms Doyle and her husband took out in 2006 through Michael Lynn & Co Solicitors.
The court was told of Ms Doyle’s husband’s client account with the company, which showed sums of money being sent to his company’s account and Ms Doyle’s sister’s account, among others. Ms. Doyle agreed that this money was not used to pay off the mortgage.
The trial heard that after Mr Lynn’s accounts were frozen by the Law Society at the end of 2007, Ms Doyle was awarded compensation. She said she couldn’t remember the amount, but it was used to pay off the €240,000 mortgage. She said she was still paying off another €600,000 loan.
Mr Comiskey O’Keeffe told Ms Doyle that because she did not use the money from the client account to pay off the mortgage it would mean she received compensation to which she was not entitled . Judge Martin Nolan intervened. “Whether or not she was entitled to it, the Law Society gave her the money,” the judge said.
Ms Doyle agreed with the defense lawyer that she and her husband each had a car and they also had a Land Rover jeep which they ‘only drove on Sundays’.
The trial resumes Monday before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.