The wife of accountant Alan Hynes, whose failed property ventures are under investigation, yesterday claimed that a law firm obtained a €2.45 million mortgage over land owned by the couple using a forged signature.
A tribunal is investigating charges brought against Mr Hynes by the Chartered Accountants' Regulatory Board (CARB) on foot of complaints from investors who lost over €18 million a number of his property ventures, including Tuskar Asset Management (TAM) plc, which is now in liquidation.
His wife, Noreen Hynes, who was a director of some of his property businesses, told the tribunal in evidence yesterday that it was wrong to class a mortgage for €2.45 million, held by solicitors' firm, Seamus Maguire & Co, over property owned by her and her husband as a judgment, as it did not result from any court or judicial proceeding.
The law firm used to act for Mr Hynes's Wexford accountancy practice and a number of his other interests before TAM's collapse.
Ms Hynes went on to allege that the mortgage was registered using a document on which her signature had been forged. She said that the security over the property was registered in and around February 2009, but she and her husband did not become aware of this until the following year, when they attempted to sell some property.
Their solicitor informed them that a registry of deeds search had found that it was subject to a mortgage. Ms Hynes told the hearing that when the couple went to the registry she was “horrified to see a document with what looked like my signature” giving a charge over the property in favour of Seamus Maguire & Co.
Mr Hynes counsel, Alan Cormack, told the tribunal that Ms Hynes had two issues with the mortgages held by the law firm. The first was whether they were entitled to them at all and the second was the means by which they were obtained.
Chairman JP McDowell pointed out that these were new allegations and questioned whether they were in any way relevant to the tribunal, which is inquiring into Mr Hynes’s conduct. Mr Cormack responded that they went “to the heart of the credibility” of any evidence provided to the tribunal by the solicitors’ firm.
Ms Hynes was unable to say why TAM plc made payments totalling €580,000 to accounts belonging to A&N Properties, which the couple controlled, between August 2007 and early 2008. She acknowledged that A&N Properties was not an investor in TAM and did not provide it with any services.
She told CARB's lawyer, Brian Farren, that Mr Hynes would have better knowledge of those transactions than she. "I would only be giving my best guess," she said.
Ms Hynes confirmed to the hearing that she put €400,000 into one of their proposed developments at the Laurels in Dundrum in Dublin. She said that her brother, Padraig Dunphy, provided the money and that it was placed in the Dundrum scheme via a Seamus Maguire & Co client account.
She said that she transferred the money into the Dundrum scheme in February 2006 as the cash was needed to close the deal over the property involved. The transfer entitled her to two units in the proposed development, while other investors were entitled to one unit for every €100,000 they put into the scheme.
She indicated that €200,000 of the cash that she provided could have been allocated to other Hynes-connected projects.
Mr Farren confirmed that a letter from February 2006 indicated that the €400,000 was a loan from Mr Dunphy. Asked why her brother put up the money, Ms Hynes replied “that’s sensitive to him at the moment”.