A former solicitor for Michael Lynn & Co has told his multi-million euro theft trial she is “horrified and disgusted” at a suggestion by the defence that she was complicit in taking out multiple mortgages on the same properties.
Fiona McAleenan was responding to a suggestion by defence counsel, Paul Comiskey O'Keeffe BL, that she was aware multiple loans were taken out on the same properties between 2006 and 2007.
In Ms McAleenan's sixth day in the witness box on Tuesday, Judge Martin Nolan clarified the defence counsel's line of questioning for the jury.
“You're saying she knew there was double undertakings and triple undertakings,” Judge Nolan said to Mr Comiskey O'Keeffe. “That she was somehow complicit in the giving of these undertakings to multiple institutions and the multiple loans?”
In her response to defence counsel, Ms McAleenan replied: “Certainly not and I'm horrified at that suggestion. I'm horrified and disgusted you would put that to me.”
Mr Lynn (53) is on trial 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).
Mr Comiskey O'Keeffe BL on Tuesday continued his cross-examination of Ms McAleenan, who worked for Michael Lynn & Co Solicitors during the time in question.
Ms McAleenan has repeatedly denied that she was a partner in the firm or that she was involved in conveyancing in the practice.
Defence counsel took the trial through various text messages from Mr Lynn's legal executive Elizabeth Doyle to Ms McAleenan in August 2007.
Ms Doyle has told the trial that she signed Ms McAleenan and Mr Lynn's signatures on a number of documents. She said she was told to do this by Mr Lynn and that she never discussed this with Ms McAleenan because Mr Lynn had said he would speak with Ms McAleenan about it.
In the text messages shown in court, Ms Doyle asked Ms McAleenan for updates on the drawdown of funds for an investment property. Mr Comiskey O'Keeffe put it to Ms McAleenan that this indicated she was involved in conveyancing with the firm.
Ms McAleenan said she was not involved in conveyancing. “I don't know why she was repeatedly sending me these messages,” she said of Ms Doyle.
At one point during the cross-examination, Judge Nolan pointed out that Ms McAleenan must have answered the question on her involvement in conveyancing in the firm, “I would say 50 times”.
Law Society investigation
Re-examining Ms McAleenan, Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, told the court that the Law Society investigated Michael Lynn & Co in 2008, including the issue of multiple undertakings and multiple mortgages on some properties.
“The Law Society carried out a full investigation of all of these matters and no complaint was made against you,” Mr McGrath said.
“That's correct,” Ms McAleenan replied.
She agreed with Mr McGrath that when the Law Society carried out the practice in relation to the signing of undertakings, no criticism was made against her in that regard.
“The only solicitor who was subject to any criticism following this extensive and full investigation of Michael Lynn & Co, the only disciplinary finding was against Michael Lynn,” Mr McGrath said.
The court heard Mr Lynn was struck off the role of solicitors in May 2008. This was “the ultimate sanction” and “the most serious available sanction”, Mr McGrath said.
As Ms McAleenan's evidence came to a close, Judge Nolan said, “Yes, finally”, before thanking the witness for her time.
The trial is not sitting on Wednesday and will resume on Thursday before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.