The attorney who worked for Michael Lynn said “alarm bells rang” when attorneys from two different banks contacted them about the same properties

A lawyer working for Michael Lynn and Co Solicitors said in his multi-million euro theft lawsuit that “alarm bells rang” for her when she received two correspondences from two different firms, representing two different banks regarding the same represented real estate.

Iona McAleenan told Michael Lynn’s multi-million dollar theft lawsuit that in August 2007 she received a fax from a law firm representing a bank relating to a number of properties.

She then received another letter or fax from another law firm, working for another financial institution, relating to the same properties.

Ms McAleenan agreed that this was the first time she had become aware of the situation. “That was the first alarm bell for me, yes.”

She agreed with defense attorney Paul Comiskey O’Keeffe BL that she immediately sought advice from a friend who recommended an attorney and, on that advice, contacted the Law Society.

She accepted that society would ask her a series of questions, assuming it was a genuine mistake or misunderstanding.

Ms McAleenan said the ultimate advice she received from her recommended attorney and possibly the Bar Association was to leave the practice immediately.

She agreed that she handed in her resignation and left the same day, confirming that that day was September 10, 2007.

Mr. Lynn (53) is accused in court of stealing around 27 million euros from seven financial institutions.

Mr Lynn of Millbrook Court, Red Cross, County Wicklow, pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of theft in Dublin between 23 October 2006 and 20 April 2007.

It is the prosecution’s case that Mr. Lynn obtained multiple mortgages on the same properties in a situation where the banks were unaware that other institutions were also providing financing.

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).

Elizabeth Doyle, a legal executive working 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 asked to do so by Mr Lynn.

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

Ms. McAleenan advised Mr. Comiskey O’Keeffe today that she has signed undertakings relating to various properties without having dealt with the transfer of ownership of that property.

She said she was never involved in any transfer within the firm and confirmed that when signing such undertakings she relied on the firm’s other employees to ensure the undertaking was honored.

She said it was “a well-established practice at the time” for warrants to be signed by attorneys who did not carry out the transfer. “It wasn’t unusual at all,” Ms. McAleenan said.

When Ms. McAleenan was shown a copy of a January 2006 commitment letter, she agreed that it was her signature on the document. The company referred to a property in Ms. Doyle’s name for which she applied for a mortgage with Permanent TSB.

Ms McAleenan said she was not aware of all the details of the pledge and said when she signed it she accepted it was right and trusted Ms Doyle on the matter.

She agreed that the most weighty document in a mortgage lawyer’s package is the commitment because if handled improperly it can result in a lawyer being fired.

“You should have seen the situation regarding this company for yourself,” suggested Mr. Comiskey O’Keeffe.

“I didn’t do this because I had faith that Liz Doyle and Michael Lynn would honor the commitment. I didn’t act to protect myself and I didn’t think I had to,” Ms McAleenan said.

She said she signed the pledge and was not further involved in it.

She agreed to signing a second commitment on behalf of Liz Doyle in September 2007 after identifying her signature on the document.

“I do not recall signing any of these commitments or noticing the properties to which they relate,” Ms. McAleenan replied, before agreeing that she “would have asked questions” if she had signed the commitments related to the same properties would have noticed.

“I didn’t ask any questions, based on trust and because I don’t think anything uncomfortable is going on,” she said.

Ms McAleenan said Ms Doyle would often come into the office and stand by her desk and show her a commitment to sign with the front page down. She said Ms Doyle will continue to chat with her and “turn the page” for more signatures.

Ms. McAleenan agreed that she would sign as a witness to Mr. Lynn’s signature without having witnessed his signature.

“It was brought to me and I took it and signed it. I assumed everything was fine. I trusted Michael Lynn and Liz Doyle that this was his signature. I now accept that I shouldn’t have done it. I now accept that I was wrong, but I trusted them,” Ms. McAleenan continued.

The trial will continue before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury. The attorney who worked for Michael Lynn said “alarm bells rang” when attorneys from two different banks contacted them about the same properties

Fry Electronics Team

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