A legal executive has revealed in a multi-million-dollar theft lawsuit that she often signed her employer, Michael Lynn, on various slips relating to bank loans.
Elizabeth Doyle, who was working 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 “there was fear”.
“Michael Lynn would have been a nice guy, but there was another side to Michael Lynn that would have had a fear factor,” she said in court Friday.
Mr Lynn, 53, is on trial in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court accused of stealing around €27million from seven financial institutions.
Mr Lynn, of Millbrook Court, Red Cross, County Wicklow, pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of theft between 23 October 2006 and 20 April 2007 in Dublin.
It is the prosecution’s case that Mr. Lynn obtained multiple 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 represented Mr Lynn as an officer at his company Kendar Global Properties Ltd. have worked. After being shown various documents, she admitted that a signature claiming to be Michael Lynn was her own handwriting.
Ms Doyle told Patrick McGrath SC, the prosecutor, that she signed the documentation “at the direction” of Mr Lynn. She also confirmed that some signatures believed to be those of attorney Fiona McAleenan were “my handwriting.”
Ms Doyle said that when she signed some documents she noticed that some of the properties listed “were in other applications as well”.
Raised a problem
She agreed she raised an issue when she saw this, but she told Mr McGrath she was having some difficulties in her personal life at the time and “her mind was everywhere”.
“I was under extreme pressure,” Ms. Doyle said.
She agreed that on other documents, a signature for Mr. Lynn’s wife, Bríd Murphy, was “my handwriting.”
She agreed that another letter signed by Ms McAleenan was “my signature”. She accepted that she herself had not spoken to Ms. McAleenan about it. She told the trial that Mr Lynn had said he would speak to Ms McAleenan about it.
When asked by Mr McGrath if she thought Mr Lynn would register the various properties on which he had secured loans, Ms Doyle replied: “I did”.
“Did you trust him regarding his dealings with the bank and Mrs. McAleenan?”
“I have,” Mrs. Doyle replied.
Paul Comiskey O’Keeffe BL, defending Mr Lynn, informed Ms Doyle that his client accepts that she had his consent and authority to sign his name on paperwork.
“Was that a general guideline?” asked the attorney.
“That is correct,” Mrs. Doyle replied. She said she could not remember “how this policy was implemented”.
When asked if there were any typical circumstances in which this might happen, Ms Doyle said she couldn’t remember but accepted “it might happen because Mr Lynn was out of jurisdiction”.
Ms Doyle said she could not remember exactly how Mr Lynn’s instruction was given to her. “Sometimes verbally, sometimes over the phone. It was hectic, so I don’t remember how it happened,” she said.
“You just repeat that mantra ‘it was on his orders,’ but you can’t repeat any details on that,” said Mr. Comiskey O’Keeffe.
Ms Doyle acknowledged that it was possible that certain documents which she had previously identified as having been signed by her on Mr Lynn’s behalf might in fact have been signed by Mr Lynn himself.
She said she doesn’t remember if she ever signed for Mr Lynn in the presence of Ms McAleenan.
Ms Doyle agreed with defense counsel that she socialized with Mr Lynn, that several of her family members were employed by him at various stages and that she asked him to sing at her wedding.
Referring to her claim that he had “another side”, Mr Comiskey O’Keeffe told Ms Doyle that Mr Lynn would say he was motivated and ambitious, that he got the same work ethic from his staff and from her in particular expect great benefit from it.
Mr Comiskey O’Keeffe told Ms Doyle she was paid €95,000 a year but she said she couldn’t remember what her salary was. “I know I was paid well,” she said. She didn’t accept that she got a bonus of 50,000 euros a 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 by documents relating to a €240,000 mortgage loan that Ms Doyle and her husband took out in 2006 from Michael Lynn & Co Solicitors. The court was shown Ms Doyle’s husband’s customer account with the company, which included transfers of funds to his company account and Ms Doyle’s sister’s account. Ms. Doyle agreed that this money was not used to pay off the mortgage.
The hearing stated that Ms Doyle received compensation after the Bar Association froze Mr Lynn’s accounts in late 2007. She said she couldn’t remember how much it was but that it was used to pay off the €240,000 mortgage. She said she was paying off another loan of 600,000 euros.
Mr Comiskey O’Keeffe explained to Ms Doyle that this would mean she would receive compensation to which she was not entitled because she did not use the money in the client’s account to pay off the mortgage. Judge Martin Nolan intervened. “Whether she was eligible or not, the bar gave her the money,” the judge said.
Ms Doyle agreed with the defense attorney that she and her husband each had a car and that they also had a Land Rover jeep which they “only drove on Sundays”.
The trial will continue Monday before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.