Developer Michael O'Flynn claims three ex employees guilty of stealing critical information

Developer Michael O'Flynn claims three ex employees guilty of stealing critical information
File image of Cork developer, Michael O'Flynn

Developer Michael O'Flynn has claimed three former trusted senior employees, including Patrick Cox, son of former MEP Pat Cox, were all guilty of stealing confidential and critical information belonging to the O'Flynn group.

He said the manipulation by former investment director Patrick Cox of a young PA in what he said was the theft of nearly 37,000 documents was shocking and something Mr Cox junior should be "downrightly ashamed of".

Mr O'Flynn, chairman and CEO of the group, was giving evidence in a High Court case in which a number of O'Flynn companies are suing former employees Mr Cox, Liam Foley, Eoghan Kearney and four companies.

It is claimed the defendants made more than €12.5 million in profit on a student accommodation project on Gardiner Street, Dublin, at his business’s expense using this information.

The defendants deny the claims.

Mr O'Flynn said the conduct of Mr Cox was "the worst I have ever come across". Mr Cox had sought "bonus payments and bonus payments" and the group was happy to accommodate him, he said.

"But the money he got was used to set up against us and that was staggering."

Mr Cox then he said started making false allegations about O'Flynns keeping information from Nama, which had taken over the group's €1.8 billion in loans, about projects in Coventry and Birmingham in England.

This, he said, was an attempt at blackmail and to dissuade the company from bringing court action against him and his co-defendants. It was an attempt to damage his reputation which he had spent a long time earning.

"I don't intend losing it to a bunch like this," he said.

Mr Cox could have gone to Nama "if there was anything untoward" in the last three years but had not done so, he said. But Mr O'Flynn himself got his solicitor to write to Nama summarising those allegations which he stressed were completely false.

Mr O'Flynn said his differences with Nama about policy were well known over the years but he had always operated "straight down the line" when dealing with Nama.

This time was "the toughest eight years in business and we had to fight to survive" by drawing on the company's experience, Mr O'Flynn said. "But we did not act unlawfully or deprive Nama of any money."

Mr O'Flynn has told the court his relationship with Mr Cox's father, Pat, who was also a former European Parliament president, prompted him to hire the politician’s son.

He claims that while Mr Foley resigned from the O'Flynn group in 2011 and Mr Kearney ended his connection in 2013, Mr Cox continued to be employed.until 2015.

It is agreed in the case that shortly before leaving Mr Cox copied some 37,000 documents.

Mr O'Flynn says he later sent some of that material to his two co-defendants which they used to "tap into" when they needed certain information.

"If you steal something from somebody, you are guilty, but if you also obtain material from somebody who has stolen it you are also guilty", he said.

Mr O'Flynn told his counsel Michael Cush that along with Mr Cox, Mr Kearney and Mr Foley were considered "trusted persons" within the group before they left. Mr Foley was involved in a number of projects in England while Mr Kearney was the group acquisitions manager.

In one email before Mr Cox left the company, Mr Foley told Mr Cox to "watch your step even more now".

Mr O'Flynn said "Mr Foley and his cohorts were obviously watching out in case he, Cox, would make a slip and alert us to what was going on."

He found it astounding when he learned Mr Cox had sent out to Mr Foley and Mr Kearney a proposed confidential and highly sensitive brochure for attracting investment to O'Flynn Capital Partners. Mr Cox suggested they might "rob" certain ideas from the brochure.

Mr O'Flynn said this was "an extraordinary word to use for anybody" but it was obvious that the three former employees "were not going to miss a trick" because of O'Flynn experience in the business.

Mr O'Flynn referred to another email in which he said it appeared the trio were in some disagreement about "how they would divide the stolen cake".

The case continues.

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