Notary officer cuts ties with contentious property trust

A public officer who was used by a controversial property trust to formally witness hundreds of property transactions has cut his ties with the group.

Dermot Conway was the preferred notary public for the Rodolphus Allen Trust as it took in and leased back properties at sign-in sessions held across Cork during the summer.

Mr Conway’s decision to cease offering notarising services to the trust came after it controversially retook a stud farm in Kildare. The farm had been managed by court-appointed receivers, Savills.

The trust, run by Kilkenny farmer Charlie Allen, has been used by debtors across the country who hope to put properties out of the reach of banks and lenders.

Mr Conway, who is also a solicitor in Cork City, has now stopped providing the services.

During the summer, the presence of a notary public allowed an official third party to verify and record people’s actions when they signed deeds that placed properties into the trust.

Mr Conway had witnessed hundreds of deals in which indebted people signed over properties after providing proof they were the freehold owners.

Mr Conway, a specialist maritime lawyer, did not act for the trust or advise any of those who placed properties into it. He was employed by the trust and was not paid by the applicants.

Last week, the trust, which has had its legitimacy questioned in the Seanad, ousted receivers from the Kennyscourt stud farm in Kildare, which is owned by Eugene McDermott.

The receivers took back the farm the next day only for the trust to return with a consaw and more then 250 supporters on Saturday afternoon to take possession once more.

The trust’s arguments have yet to be tested in court and Mr Allen said yesterday that he would not explain how it hoped to defeat mortgages. He said that those who needed to know knew.

The group cited ancient Brehon law during Saturday’s march. This is understood to refer to the belief that there can only be one owner of freehold land, so mortgages that dilute that ownership are unlawful.

The trust did not make a statement on Mr Conway’s decision.

Cork had been a focal point for numerous signing-in sessions conducted by the trust. This was because a notary public can only operate in the county in which they are appointed.

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