Former solicitor Michael Lynn sentenced to five and a half years for theft of €17.9m

Lawyer for accused said client’s time in Brazilian prison left him with PTSD due to violence witnessed, including a decapitation

Former solicitor and property developer Michael Lynn has been sentenced to 5½ years by Judge Martin Nolan at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

A jury returned guilty verdicts on 10 of the 21 charges against Lynn late last year in what was the 55-year-old’s second trial after an earlier jury failed to reach a verdict.

Lynn was convicted last December of 10 counts of stealing around €17.9 million from six financial institutions 16 years ago. The jury, which deliberated on its decision for 6½ hours over two days following an eight-week trial, was unable to agree on the remaining 11 counts on the indictment. The previous trial in 2022 lasted 16 weeks.

Judge Nolan on Monday said he accepted that Lynn was a person who had many good points - he was “energetic”, “very intelligent” and “accomplished”. He said he believed Lynn was capable of reform and of contributing to this country and society “in due course”.


However, he said the amount of money stolen was serious and Lynn had brought solicitors into “professional disrepute”.

He added: “Mr Lynn acted in total disregard in relation to his obligations as a solicitor to be honest and straightforward and he disregarded the interests of the people he was working with.”

The judge noted Lynn’s account of having prior agreements with the banks in relation to the loan monies was disbelieved by the jury.

He set a headline sentence of 16 years but reduced this to 13 years having taken mitigating factors such as Lynn’s lack of previous convictions into consideration. He also said he would take into account the 4½ years that Lynn had spent in prison in Brazil, time he said he would aggregate to 7½ years because the conditions in that jail had no doubt been “pretty inhumane”.

On this basis, he said, Lynn should receive a sentence of 5½ years, starting from December 20th last, when the jury found him guilty.

Barrister Joe Mulrean, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said there might be an application for a confiscation of assets order. When Judge Nolan asked what assets this related to, Mr Mulrean said property and money in bank accounts. The order might be sought under the Criminal Justice Act, 1994, counsel said. The judge put the matter back to April 16th next.

The court was told that Lynn, who was granted free legal aid both trials, was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the trauma he suffered when in jail in Brazil as he contested his extradition to Ireland to face charges through the courts.

Judge Nolan said he had no doubt that the conditions in the Brazilian jail were “pretty onerous” but that Lynn could have “lessened his difficulties” by agreeing to come back to Ireland to face the charges.

The judge said the counts on which Lynn was found guilty involved the theft of approximately €18 million from six financial institutions, two of which had recovered some €5 million from the sale of mortgaged assets. The rest of the money had been lost, either to the banks or their insurers.

Paul Comiskey O’Keeffe BL, for Lynn, said his client should be credited with 2½ days for every day served in Brazil as the conditions there would constitute inhumane punishment under the European Convention on Human Rights.

He handed in reports in support of mitigation that said Lynn had witnessed corruption and violence, including a decapitation, while in the Brazilian prison. He still suffered from disturbed sleep, flashbacks, and anxiety. His being sent to jail in Ireland in December had “triggered” the anxiety he has been suffering from as a result of being jail in Brazil, he said.

Lynn, with an address at Millbrook Court, Redcross, Co Wicklow, pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of theft in Dublin between October 23rd, 2006 and April 20th, 2007, when he was working as a solicitor and property developer.

The jury was told that he obtained multiple mortgages on the same properties in a situation where banks were unaware that other institutions were also providing finance. The properties included Lynn’s €5.5 million home in Howth, Glenlion, and multiple investment properties.

The financial institutions involved were National Irish Bank, Irish Life and Permanent, Ulster Bank, ACC Bank, Bank of Scotland Ireland Ltd and Irish Nationwide Building Society.

Lynn took the stand and told his trial that the banks were aware he had multiple loans on the same properties and that this was custom and practice among bankers in Celtic Tiger Ireland.

Following the collapse of his solicitor’s practice and his property ventures, Lynn left Ireland but was eventually extradited from Brazil to face charges after spending 4½ years in jail there resisting his return to the State. While in Brazil, he and his wife had a number of children.

As a solicitor in Blanchardstown, Dublin, Lynn specialised in litigation and property conveyancing, but quickly developed his business interests. He moved his practice to the Capel Building in the city centre and began to practise as Capel Law while becoming involved in property development by way of Kendar Holdings, which he incorporated in January 2003.

His initial ventures involved apartments in Co Leitrim and offices in Co Cavan, but he soon moved overseas, working on a holiday home project in Portugal and property ventures in Hungary, while continuing to run Capel Law.

At the peak of his activities, he was associated with almost 150 properties, a similar number of bank accounts in a number of jurisdictions, and assets with a nominal value of €50 million.

During his 2022 trial Lynn described the conditions in his Brazilian prison as harsh, with high levels of violence. “Brazilian prisons are very difficult for everybody,” he said. During the same trial his wife said that the family was now living on social welfare.

In a statement released on behalf of his client in the wake of the sentencing decision, solicitor Ciaran Mulholland, of Mulholland Law, said Lynn had instructed that an appeal be lodged immediately against his conviction and sentence.

Following a critical review of aspects of the case, the statement said it was always easy to demonise an individual in order to deflect attention from the “real culprits” and called on the Oireachtas to set up an inquiry into “systemic flaws” in the banking system.

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Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent