Michael Lynn’s second life
What attracted solicitor to Recife, Brazil? Maybe it was its property boom
In a rare interview in 2009 Lynn said that although his extensive borrowings were misguided he does not believe he acted fraudulently. “The one thing I want to make clear is that I am not going to be a scapegoat for others,” he said. “I am not going to be used as an example of what was recognised as an acceptable form and practice of business by bankers, lawyers, accountants and auctioneers. I am not going to be the poster boy who ends up in prison to my cost alone.”
Little is known about the solicitor’s movements after he left Ireland. He spent some time in Portugal, and sightings were reported in Bulgaria, New York and London. In August 2009 he was interviewed by police in Budapest, but he could not be extradited to Ireland because there were no criminal charges against him at the time.
The Brazilian connection had been established well before Lynn’s property empire collapsed. Company records for Kendar Holdings showed that, in early 2007, Lynn was planning to buy four plots of land in Brazil worth €686,000. He also planned to set up a “property speculation arm” in Brazil, according to a draft business plan for the company written in late 2006. The same plan said one of the company’s strengths was that it had a “visionary owner” in Lynn, who was “prepared to take bold decisions”.
Inquiries by the Brazilian police show Lynn entered the country for the first time in 2007, and then three more times up to 2011. Since settling in the country Lynn has established ties to three cities. He and Murphy were listed as the owners of Golina, a property firm whose papers were first lodged in November 2007 in Fortaleza, a coastal city in the north. Separate files show that in 2011 and 2012 the couple declared their home address in Jardins, a wealthy suburb of São Paulo, the country’s commercial capital.
By the summer of 2012 Lynn was working at Britanic language school in Recife, and in October that year he and his wife registered a property company, Quantum Assessoria E Empreendimentos (Quantum Consulting and Ventures) Ltd, which remains active. Lynn is believed to be involved in a venture in Cabo de Santo Agostina, 35km south of Recife, where demand for housing has surged as a result of the expansion of nearby Suape, one of the biggest ports in Brazil. Lynn, it appears, was back in business.
By the time of his arrest in Recife, Lynn had settled into a routine that centred on his home, the school and occasional trips to a golf and country club where he would bring his son to see the horses. “He had a very regular pattern,” says Santoro, the police spokesman. “He would go to the school where he taught, go out with his wife, go to the shops.”
In order to get to Lynn, Dublin knew it had to strike a deal with the Brazilians. According to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, the two states recently decided to begin talks on an extradition treaty; they also agreed that, pending the conclusion of the treaty, they would treat extradition requests from each other on the basis of reciprocity. Once that was agreed, Dublin duly issued a request through Interpol for Lynn to be sent home.
Since his arrest nine days ago, the Irishman has been held in a unit reserved for university graduates and ex-policemen at Cotel prison, on the outskirts of Recife. He can be held for up to 90 days unless his lawyers succeed in having him released on bail. Astle says Lynn appeared calm when he saw him briefly at the police station on the day of his arrest, but Astle recalls Murphy telling him her husband was “very scared”.
Lynn has made it clear he will resist the attempt to extradite him. The Irish authorities are determined to have him returned. And in the middle are the 11 judges of Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court.
The closing act is theirs to write.