Developer rails over corrupt payments claim

Michael Ryan interviewed over payments of €80,000

Developer Michael Ryan

Developer Michael Ryan


A property developer told detectives investigating payments to a politician that allegations he “instructed” the politician to get a piece of land rezoned were “bullshit”, a court heard yesterday.

Millionaire developer Michael Ryan told gardaí after he was arrested that he was aware former Fine Gael councillor Fred Forsey jnr “spoke to people” about an industrial and residential project Mr Ryan wanted to develop, but denied the politician was lobbying on his behalf.

The trial at Waterford Circuit Court heard that Mr Ryan was arrested by Det Sgt Shay Keevans at Dungarvan shopping centre on August 16th, 2009.

He was later interviewed several times by detectives investigating payments of €80,000 made by Mr Ryan in 2006 to Forsey, who was a town councillor in Dungarvan at the time.

Reward or inducement
Mr Ryan, with an address at The Sweepstakes, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, denies three charges of making corrupt payments to Forsey in August, October and December of 2006. The money is alleged to have been a reward or inducement for Forsey to use his influence to get a 32-hectare piece of land outside Dungarvan rezoned to industrial and residential use.

After Mr Ryan loaned Forsey €80,000 in 2006, he said he didn’t hear from him between 2007, when the ex-politician left the country for Australia, and the week before his arrest in August of 2009, when Forsey phoned him.

“He said he was working for €4.50 an hour and said he had a hard time from the guards. He was trying to raise €30,000 to buy a bar in Lanzarote.”

The following Friday Forsey phoned him from an Irish mobile number, he said. “He just told me he didn’t have the money to pay me back and that it was John Deasy who made the allegations.”

Asked why he had given Forsey €80,000 in 2006, he replied: “Because he asked.”

Had an affair
Forsey told him he was buying two properties in Dungarvan and would repay the money when he sold on the units. Mr Ryan said he never got the money back and tried to contact Forsey in 2007 but he had left for Australia. In another interview, he was asked if Forsey went to Australia because of the Garda investigation.

“I don’t think he left because of the guards. He had an affair with a young one,” he answered. He denied to gardaí in the interviews that he “instructed” Forsey to get the Ballygeoghegan lands rezoned or, failing that, to get the Dungarvan town boundary extended, after giving him the money.

“That’s bullshit. It’s not true,” he replied when this was put to him. Detectives asked him if Forsey spoke about the investigation during his phone call the previous Friday.

“Just that he was arrested and held for 24 hours and got a hard time and that this was all a John Deasy propaganda,” he replied.

He expected to make about €4.3 million profit if the Ballygeoghegan deal went ahead, but a rezoning that was passed by the county council in 2008 was later reversed by the then minister for the environment John Gormley.

The trial continues today