A legal executive has told a multi-million euro theft trial that she often signed her employer Michael Lynn’s signature on various supporting documentation in relation to bank loans.
Elizabeth Doyle, who worked as Mr Lynn's legal executive at the time in question, told the trial of the former solicitor that she did not ask questions because it was a "hectic office" and "there was a fear there".
"Michael Lynn would have been a nice guy, but there was another side to Michael Lynn that there would have been a fear factor," she told the court on Friday.
Mr Lynn (53) is on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court accused of the theft of around €27 million from seven financial institutions.
Mr Lynn, of Millbrook Court, Red Cross, Co Wicklow, has pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of theft in Dublin between October 23rd, 2006 and April 20th, 2007.
It is the prosecution case that Mr Lynn obtained multiple mortgages on the same properties in a situation where banks were unaware that other institutions were also providing finance.
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 worked for Mr Lynn as a legal executive with his company Kendar Global Properties Ltd. After she was shown various documentation, she acknowledged that a signature purporting to be Michael Lynn was her own handwriting.
Ms Doyle told Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, that she signed the documentation “under the instruction” of Mr Lynn. She also confirmed that some signatures, which purported to be that of solicitor, Fiona McAleenan, were “my handwriting”.
Ms Doyle said that she noticed when signing some documentation that some of the listed properties “were also on other applications”.
Raised an issue
She agreed that she raised an issue when she saw that but she told Mr McGrath that at the time she was having some difficulties in her personal life and her “mind was all over the place”.
“I was under extreme pressure,” Ms Doyle said.
She agreed that on other documentation a signature for Bríd Murphy, Mr Lynn’s wife, was “my handwriting”.
She agreed that another letter signed by Ms McAleenan was “my signature”. She accepted that she didn’t speak to Ms McAleenan about this herself. She told the trial that Mr Lynn had said he would speak to Ms McAleenan about it.
When asked by Mr McGrath if she believed Mr Lynn was going to register the various properties he had secured loans on, Ms Doyle replied: “I did”.
“Did you trust him in relation to his dealings with the bank and Ms McAleenan?”
“I did,” replied Ms Doyle.
Paul Comiskey O’Keeffe BL, defending Mr Lynn, told Ms Doyle that his client accepts that she had his consent and his authority to sign his name on documentation.
“That was a general policy?” counsel asked.
“That’s correct,” replied Ms Doyle. She said she couldn’t recall “how that policy was put into effect”.
When asked if there were any typical circumstances when this might occur, Ms Doyle said she couldn’t recall but accepted that, “it could happen because Mr Lynn was out of the jurisdiction”.
Ms Doyle said she couldn’t recall exactly how the instruction from Mr Lynn was given to her. “Sometimes verbally, sometimes on the phone. It was hectic so I can’t recall how it happened,” she said.
“You just repeat this mantra, ‘it was on his instruction’ but you can’t repeat any detail in relation to that,” Mr Comiskey O’Keeffe said.
Ms Doyle accepted that it was possible that certain documents which she had identified earlier as having been signed by her on behalf of Mr Lynn, could actually have been signed by Mr Lynn himself.
She said she didn’t recall if she ever signed for Mr Lynn in the presence of Ms McAleenan.
Ms Doyle agreed with defence counsel that she socialised 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.
In relation to her assertion that he had “another side”, Mr Comiskey O’Keeffe put it to Ms Doyle that Mr Lynn would say that he was driven and ambitious, that he expected the same work ethic from his employees and that she in particular benefitted greatly as a result of this.
Mr Comiskey O’Keeffe put it to Ms Doyle that she was paid €95,000 a year, but she said she could not remember how much her salary was. “I know I was well paid,” she said. She did not accept that she got a bonus of €50,000 per 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 brought through documents relating to a €240,000 mortgage loan Ms Doyle and her husband took out in 2006 through Michael Lynn & Co Solicitors. The court was shown Ms Doyle’s husband’s client account with the firm, which showed sums of money being sent to his company account and Ms Doyle’s sister’s account, among others. Ms Doyle agreed that this money was not used to repay the mortgage.
The trial heard that after Mr Lynn's accounts were frozen by the Law Society in late 2007, Ms Doyle received compensation. She said she could not remember how much it was, but that it was used to pay off the €240,000 mortgage. She said she is still paying off another €600,000 loan.
Mr Comiskey O'Keeffe put it to Ms Doyle that because she did not use the money in the client account to repay the mortgage, this would mean she received compensation that she was not entitled to. Judge Martin Nolan intervened. "Whether she was entitled or not, the Law Society gave her the money," the judge said.
Ms Doyle agreed with defence counsel that she and her husband had a car each and that they also had a Land Rover jeep that they “drove only on Sundays”.
The trial resumes on Monday before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.