Michael Lynn set to face criminal charges after Brazil arrest
Struck off solicitor’s arrest is first step in State’s efforts to secure extradition
Michael Lynn solicitor has been arrested. Photograph: Garrett White / Collins
The 44-year-old has been living in Brazil in recent years and was granted permanent residency last year after the birth of his son there.
There is no extradition treaty between Brazil and Ireland, meaning the struck-off previously Dublin-based solicitor from Co Mayo appeared beyond the reach of the law in Ireland.
However, a bilateral agreement has been put in place between the Brazilian and Irish authorities and on the basis of that, the Irish authorities sent an extradition request for Lynn to Brazil, which has now led to his arrest.
He was living openly in Brazil in the state of Pernambuco, where he was arrested in what was effectively the first step in the Irish State’s efforts to bring him before the courts here.
If that process proves successful, Lynn will be extradited and will immediately be charged with a number of criminal offences relating to his business dealings, including allegations that he used fraudulent paperwork to secure mortgages, sometimes numerous ones on the same properties.
While an arrest warrant has been active for him since 2007, it related to the High Court’s efforts to compel him to attend the court and deal with the civil matters relating to his € 80 million in property dealings as they began to unfold.
Irrespective of where he was residing and the existence of extradition agreements with Ireland, Lynn could not be extradited on the basis of the contempt of court arrest warrant.
Suspects can only be extradited if they have been investigated in Ireland, a file submitted to the DPP and directions given by the DPP to charge the person with a criminal offence.
“Suspects can’t be extradited to be questioned about something, the criminal charge has to be ready to go and in place,” said one legal source, speaking in general terms rather than directly in relation to Lynn’s case.
Despite leaving the country, the fall-out from Lynn’s failed business dealings has continued in the commercial courts, for both his and his client’s assets. And the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation has continued to probe him.
The investigation, into dozens of separate but similar allegedly criminal business dealings, resulted in the DPP recommending he be charged.
While the arrest and extradition efforts relate to those charges, it is not yet clear exactly what he has been arrested for. Those specific details will most likely emerge when he appears before the High Court in Brazil.
Originally from Crossmolina, Co Mayo, the High Court was dealing with his failed enterprises, which involved liabilities of up to € 80 million, when he left the country. He initially seemed willing to give evidence to some court hearings via satellite link from abroad but those plans were hit when he said he was unwell.
The Law Society first reported complaints against him to the gardaí in October 2007. Having practiced in Capel St in Dublin’s north inner city, he was struck off by the president of the high court in 2008 and was fined €1million.
A number of properties held in his name have since been repossessed in his absence, and his former home in Sandymount has also been disposed of.
He had been living for periods in Portugal and Hungary, but because there were no criminal charges approved for him in Ireland at that time, he could not be extradited here.
He spoken to by the police in Hungary in August 2009 but no criminal issue arose and he was free to go.
Some of his clients gave money to him to complete transactions for them, which they allege they have lost.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said in a statement today that it was “ not acceptable that persons should seek to be immune from the consequences of their actions through evading court proceedings which they face in this jurisdiction”
“Pending the conclusion of the extradition treaty” between Ireland and Brazil it had been agreed that they would treat extradition requests from each other on the basis of reciprocity”, he said. “ Against that background, Mr. Lynn is now facing extradition proceedings there,” he added.
“should Mr Lynn be extradited he would face criminal charges here on which it would not be appropriate for me to comment,” he said.