Michael Lynn trial: Solicitor claims signature forged on loan documents without permission

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Michael Lynn Trial: Solicitor Claims Signature Forged On Loan Documents Without Permission Michael Lynn Trial: Solicitor Claims Signature Forged On Loan Documents Without Permission
Fiona McAleenan (above) told Michael Lynn's trial that she never gave anyone permission to forge her signature on a number of documents shown to the jury. Photo: Collins Courts
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Isabel Hayes

A solicitor who worked for Michael Lynn & Co Solicitors has told his multi-million euro theft trial that her signature was forged on a number of loan documents without her permission.

Fiona McAleenan told Michael Lynn's trial that she never gave anyone permission to forge her signature on a number of documents shown to the jury in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court trial on Monday.

She agreed with prosecution counsel that a loan document on behalf of Mr Lynn and his wife Brid Murphy, which appeared on letterheaded paper entitled 'Fiona McAleenan Solicitors', was an “entire forgery”.

“No such firm ever existed,” she told the trial.

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.

Multiple mortgages

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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 McAleenan said she joined Michael Lynn & Co Solicitors in November 2004 as a litigation solicitor. She said she had very little knowledge of conveyancing and had no involvement of it in the firm.

She said she was aware Mr Lynn was building up a property portfolio. “That was the general conversation in the office,” she said. She said she had no involvement in the purchases

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Elizabeth Doyle, a legal executive who worked for Mr Lynn at the time, told the trial last week 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.

Ms Doyle told the trial she never discussed this with Ms McAleenan because Mr Lynn had said he would speak with Ms McAleenan about it.

Ms McAleenan said she did not give permission to Ms Doyle or to Mr Lynn to sign her name on the documents. These included family home protection documents and solicitor undertakings in relation to a number of mortgage applications.

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“Your signature has been forged on a number of places,” Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, said. “Did you give anyone permission on that day or any other day to forge your signature?”

“No, I did not give anyone permission to do so,” Ms McAleenan replied.

She said she did not see an Irish Nationwide mortgage document authorising her to sign a solicitor's undertaking on behalf of Mr Lynn until the gardaí showed it to her. She said she did not recall ever seeing a number of cheques made payable to Mr Lynn.

No such firm

In relation to a letter to Irish Nationwide which was written on paper headed 'Fiona McAleenan Solicitors', Ms McAleenan said she was not aware such a firm existed. She said she never practised at the address given in the letter at Capel Buildings.

Mr Lynn changed the firm's name to Capel Law and had a suite in the same building, the court heard.

Ms McAleenan said she recognised her signature on a number of documents, but said she did not recall signing them. She said she would sometimes sign documents as a practising solicitor in the firm, but that Ms Doyle would bring them into her office for her to sign before taking them away again.

A number of documents named Ms McAleenan as a partner in the firm, but Ms McAleenan said she was never a partner. She left the practice in September 2007, the trial heard.

Giving evidence earlier on Monday, Ms Doyle denied an assertion by defence barrister, Paul Comiskey O’Keeffe BL, that she was never instructed by Mr Lynn to sign Ms McAleenan's signature on any document.

Ms Doyle also denied an assertion by the defence that she was only authorised to sign Mr Lynn's signature “in the normal way” such as when she was authorised by power of attorney.

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Under re-examination from the prosecution, Ms Doyle agreed that when she signed Mr Lynn's signature it was “always under his instruction”.

“Similarly when it came to signing other people's names, his wife's name and Ms McAleenan's name, it was always as told and directed by him?” Mr McGrath asked. “You never did it of your own independent initiative?”

“No,” Ms Doyle replied.

The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.

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