Complainants have been groomed, Hynes tells tribunal

Accountant tells inquiry he could not recall reasons for bank transfers to him and his wife

Wexford accountant Alan Hynes has told a Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board (Carb) tribunal that he could not recall the reason for two bank transfers in 2007 totalling €180,000 made to a bank account controlled by him and his wife Noreen.

On the 12th day of the hearing of a range of complaints against the former director of property investment vehicle Tuskar Asset Management plc (Tam), now in liquidation, Mr Hynes said the complainants had been "groomed" by Wexford pension investment adviser, John Power, who is himself one of the complaintants.

Mr Power, who directed client pension monies into Tam and who himself became a director of Tam, has told the tribunal that the consequences of Mr Hynes actions in relation to Tam ranged from “bankruptcy to death”. He and his wife invested €300,000.

Mr Hynes told the tribunal he had "no confidence" in anything said to the tribunal by solicitors Seamus Maguire & Co, the firm used formerly used by Mr Hynes, his accountancy firm, Hynes & Co, and in a number of property schemes organised by Mr Hynes. The solicitors firm also acted on occasion for Tam.


The tribunal heard that investors in Tam and other Hynes-related property schemes were referred by Mr Hynes to Seamus Maguire & Co but that the investors did not issue instructions to the firm in relation to the payment of money out of its client account. The firm has told the tribunal in correspondence that it acted on the instructions of Mr Hynes.

"The normal rules were not complied with but I am not going to fill that gap for you," Mr Hynes told Brian Farren, counsel for the Carb complaints committee. He objected to the use of the word instruction in relation to his dealings with the law firm, but agreed that he was the only point of contact. He said he rejected any suggestion that he controlled the Seamus Maguire & Co client account.

Asked about two transfers out of the Tam account in August 2007, for a total of €180,000, to an account controlled by him and his wife Noreen, Mr Hynes said they might have been “re-embursements” but he was not sure.

Mr Hynes said he had not acted as an investment adviser to the 80 people, approximately half of whom were clients of his accountancy practice, who put €18 million into Tam. He did not issue them with a letter advising them to get independent investor advice, but said they were issued with an information memorandum in which they were urged to get such advice. Conflict of interest is among the issues raised in the complaints against Mr Hynes.

The tribunal heard that a woman aged 26 told the complaints committee, in correspondence, that she had told Mr Hynes she was an inexperienced investor and was relying on him, prior to making her investment in Tam. Mr Hynes said this was not true.

Mr Hynes also said he had not told former witness Jim Boggin that a number of investors were contemplating investing €1 million each in Tam, prior to Mr Boggin investing €1 million of his private pension fund in Tam in January 2008. Mr Hynes said it was not the case that he "enticed" the Wexford property developer into making his investment, as said in evidence by Mr Boggins.

Mr Farren said that a number of witnesses, as well as complainants who had not been called to give evidence, had said they considered Mr Hynes to be their investment adviser. Mr Hynes said this was not the case. "They are being told what to say," he said. Their testimony was being "corralled" and they were being "groomed", he said, by Mr Power. Chairman JP McDowell said this point had not been made to witnesses by Mr Hynes counsel, Alan Cormack, when the witnesses had been giving their evidence.

Mr Hynes reacted strongly when it was suggested by Mr Farren that he had not told potential investors to get investment advice because Tam wanted to raise capital and Mr Hynes knew that if they sought independent advice, the investments might not be made.

“Is that why we are here?” Mr Hynes responded. “I’m not like that. I don’t think like that.” Mr Cormack said a very serious allegation was being made against his client but the chairman said it was “a very simple proposition.” Mr Hynes said there was “none of that mindset behind what happened”.

The tribunal continues.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent