Documents sparked clash in Jackson Way

THE Planning Tribunal has heard that the two beneficial owners of a company under investigation for alleged planning corruption were “at loggerheads” in recent weeks over their level of co-operation with the inquiry.

However, solicitor John Caldwell told the Tribunal yesterday that he eventually persuaded the Isle of Man-based businessman, Jim Kennedy to agree to release documents sought by the inquiry's legal team for the past four years.

Both Mr Caldwell and Mr Kennedy are the ultimate beneficial owners of Jackson Way Properties - an English company which is alleged to have paid large sums of money to the political lobbyist, Mr Frank Dunlop, to bribe councillors during the 1990s.

During his second day in the witness box Caldwell revealed that he had recently attempted to persuade Kennedy to release documents to the Tribunal in compliance with its orders.

Caldwell said he had outlined to Kennedy, in meetings at the end of last month, that the situation had become intolerable. “I got nowhere in that conversation,” he remarked.

Kennedy, a tax exile with close links to Liam Lawlor, has repeatedly refused to assist the Tribunal in its investigation into the planning history of lands owned by Jackson Way at Carrickmines in south Dublin.

The solicitor said he had highlighted how the non-disclosure of documentation was “complete, and absolutely economic suicide” from Jackson Way's point of view.

“He (Kennedy) rebuffed. He said he wouldn't hear of it,” said Caldwell. However, he ultimately persuaded Kennedy to change his mind after explaining the economic consequences of failing to comply with the discovery orders.

Jackson Way is currently awaiting a ruling on its €47.5m compensation claim from Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Co Council, after parts of its lands were compulsorily acquired for the final leg of the M50 motorway.

Tribunal lawyers estimate that the remaining 80 acres of the site could potentially be worth around 100m, based on current land values.

They claimed Caldwell's share could be valued at around 40m after tax. It is believed that Kennedy and Caldwell bought the land, using another offshore company, for around €900,000 in the late 1980s.

However, Caldwell disputed the figures, claiming 60 acres of the Carrickmines lands were not currently zoned.

The solicitor said he believed he had already provided the Tribunal with a large amount of documentation relating to Jackson Way “as a result of persuasion, as a result of pressure, and going to meetings, and telephone calls and screaming, and smiling, and doing all sorts of things.”

The solicitor said he was faced with the difficulty that he had no legal right to Jackson Way documents as a result of the corporate structure he devised for the company. He admitted yesterday that the structure was essentially “a holding operation” so that he could avoid paying tax on his interest in the property.

Caldwell said the sole director of Jackson Way, a Birmingham estate agent, Alan Holland, could only act when he received instructions from both himself and Kennedy. The Tribunal will resume on Tuesday.

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