Former solicitor accused of taking €10m in fraudulent property loans

The trial of former solicitor Thomas Byrne has heard evidence that he stole over €10m from EBS Building Society by fraudulently applying for property loans.

Former solicitor accused of taking €10m in fraudulent property loans

The trial of former solicitor Thomas Byrne has heard evidence that he stole over €10m from EBS Building Society by fraudulently applying for property loans.

Mr Byrne (aged 47) of Walkinstown Road, Crumlin is accused of theft and fraud offences totalling €51.8m.

The charges allege he transferred clients’ homes into his name and then used them as collateral for property loans.

He has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 51 counts of theft, forgery, using forged documents and deception between 2004 and 2007.

The jury heard that when an individual applies for a property loan they must use “unencumbered” collateral.

This means the security can’t have been used as loan collateral with any other financial institution.

Many of the charges against Mr Byrne allege he used houses as collateral with multiple banks to receive millions of euro in additional loans.

It is also alleged that some of the properties Byrne used as collateral were not registered under his name, meaning the banks had no security if he failed to meet repayments.

The court heard that Byrne applied for and received seven loans from EBS ranging in value from €706,000 to €3m.

Conor Daly, who was head of commercial risk at EBS Building Society and is now with AIB, said Mr Byrne claimed to be the owner of 32 properties which were used as collateral for the loans. His portfolio included properties in Dublin, Kildare, The UK, France and Spain.

A document listing his assets also stated that Mr Byrne was earning around €25,000 a month by renting some of the properties.

Mr Daly told prosecuting counsel Remy Farrell SC the loans, worth a total of €10,056,000, were to be repaid over a 20-year period. For the first five years interest only repayments were required.

The witness said Mr Byrne continued payments on the loans until October 2007. The trial has previously heard from counsel that this is when “the music stopped playing” for the accused and the Law Society took over his practice.

Mr Daly said that it later emerged that Mr Byrne was not the registered owner of many of the properties and therefore the mortgages were not registered. The witness confirmed that this meant EBS had no security if the accused defaulted on repayments.

Mr Daly said it was also discovered that some properties had already been used as collateral with other lending institutions including Anglo Irish Bank.

This meant EBS did not have the required “first legal charge” on the properties. If they were sold EBS would not be the first to be repaid.

Defence counsel Damien Colgan SC asked Mr Daly if EBS imposed a limit on how much an individual could borrow.

The witness replied that there was no set limit and that it was based on several factors such as the person’s cash flow and the amount of security they possessed.

The trial continues on Monday before Judge Patrick McCartan and a jury of seven men and five women.

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