Dozens of people attended a small hotel in Wicklow yesterday for what they were told may be the last signing-in session for a controversial and quasi-spiritual, property trust.
The event was moved to the Bel Air hotel in Ashford at the last minute after a notary public in Cork, Dermot Conway, cut his ties with the group and the organisers had to relocate to another county.
The trust has attracted developers, farmers, and businessmen with debts on large property portfolios.
According to the trust’s organiser, Kilkenny landscape gardener Charlie Allen Sr, it has accepted assets worth up to €2bn from at least 2,000 debtors.
It has yet to be tested in court despite an ongoing stand-off with receivers regarding occupation of a Kildare stud farm.
At yesterday’s Bel Air signing-in session, additional publicans, hoteliers, families, and syndicates put their properties into the Rodolphus Allen Private Family Trust.
The age profile of those signing up varied, but most in attendance were male and older than 45. Some of those indicated that they were not in receivership and had working relationships with the banks regarding their debt problems.
By lunchtime, at least 50 people had been given forms relating to the trust or had been helped to source Land Registry documents online.
Most people had, as they had been advised, brought official copies of their Land Registry instruments or their Registry of Deeds memorials along with them.
During the event, the Irish Examiner posed as a potential entrant into the trust.
It was given official documents designed to acknowledge the organisation; give its operator power of attorney over a portfolio of assets; and, separately, affirm the aspirations of the organisation.
The affirmation included a commitment to try to “identify, engage, and fulfil our true purpose on this planet, as unique fragments of Divine Consciousness, in our eternal spiritual quest for self-realisation”.
Those entering the trust were told to have passports and €525 per property on hand — although the forms available on the day looked for €350 per folio.
From 10am, people from all four provinces met with Mr Allen or at least four of his staff to discuss their options and sign trust documents in the presence of a notary public.
A number of people asked questions about the trust and its strategy.
They were not given any commitment that the scheme would work. In at least one case, Mr Allen said if people had doubts about the trust, they were better to remain outside it.
A plan was outlined that first involved placing properties into the trust, and supposedly beyond the reach of the banks.
The second part of the plan, attendees were told, was to prove that the mortgages attached to the properties were illegal. No details on this part were forthcoming.
At a protest in Kildare last weekend, the trust’s organisers cited Brehon and common law but has so far refused to make its legal arguments public.
The trust deeds cited an affiliation with the Universal Community Trusts, a loose international organisation that is linked to the freeman of the land philosophy and does not fully recognise nation states.
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