Michael Lynn in Poland bomb blast probe

DISGRACED developer and former solicitor Michael Lynn is feared to have been the target of a gangland bomb attack.

The fugitive was in a house in Krakow, Poland, when the blast went off. A car, that Polish police think was his, was found at the property shortly after the attack but there was no sign of the 44-year-old from Co. Mayo.

Documents detailing various property deals by his failed firm Kendar Properties were found in the vehicle.

Lynn is believed to have been visiting the house when the bomb went off. It was only after the car was searched that a link to Lynn, who left Ireland more than four years ago owing around €80million, was established.

Police initially thought he might return to the scene and reclaim the car, which has since been moved to a police car pound.

But he has not been in contact with detectives investigating the 2009 incident. They now suspect he might have actually been the target of the bomb – which may have been set off at the property in Krakow as a result of a botched business deal. Detectives do not regard him as a suspect. Instead, he is being described as a witness.

A court hearing in connection with the blast is due to be held over the coming months and authorities have been looking for an address for the developer so a summons can be served on him.

A legal source said last night: ‘We need to find Mr Lynn and speak to him about this incident and to ask him about the car that was found.

He is not being treated as a suspect. Instead, he is being considered as a witness and we have wanted to speak to him since it happened. ‘However, we do not know how to get in touch with him.’

The extraordinary twist is the latest turn of events for Lynn, who is believed to have unwittingly become associated with Eastern European gangsters during his business dealings in Bulgaria.

A file on him has been passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions with a view to issuing a European Arrest Warrant for him. He has repeatedly failed to attend meetings set up by Garda fraud squad detectives.

They now want him arrested and brought back to Ireland for questioning. The Law Society has already ordered him to pay €2million in fines.

Lynn, who was struck off as a solicitor in 2008, was also found guilty of 57 changes of misconduct by a disciplinary hearing.

In January the following year, the Irish Mail on Sunday tracked him down to a secluded villa in Portugal.

In his only interview since absconding from Ireland in December 2007, Lynn denied he was a fraudster or a fugitive. He spoke on the condition that his exact location was not revealed.

In his only interview since absconding from Ireland in December 2007, Lynn he said that he was working to pay back all his debts and he insisted that he did not retain any ownership stake in any of his developments.

The 44-year-old from Co. Mayo denied that he was a fraudster or a fugitive and insisted his only crime was getting caught up in the trappings of the Celtic Tiger, like so many others during the boom.

Lynn told the Irish Mail on Sunday: ‘Today I look in the mirror and ask myself who he was? I am disappointed that I lost some of my own fundamental principles that I was given as a young fellow.

‘I have let my family down and I have let myself down. And that’s difficult and I need to live with that all of the time. But that’s my problem, that’s my bed and I have made it.’

The missing solicitor has been accused of taking out multiple mortgages on the same properties and has estimated liabilities of some €80million.

His assets were valued at around €52.5million and he or his firms were listed as having a staggering 154 bank accounts and dealings concerning 148 properties.

Lynn is known to have visited the UK, Portugal, Bulgaria and the United States and his extensive portfolio of assets includes properties in those countries.

Breifne O’Brien estranged wife Fiona Nagle defends herself against allegations

BREIFNE O’Brien’s estranged wife Fiona Nagle last night spoke out for the first time since his pyramid scams were exposed in 2008.

In an emotional statement, Miss Nagle said she felt compelled to break her silence because of a series of allegations made against her in a creditors’ meeting yesterday.

It had been held to agree on the liquidation of Blackrock Cabs, which O’Brien had used to bankroll his lavish lifestyle.

The meeting heard allegations about the way Miss Nagle, who replaced her estranged husband as director in December 2008, had also used income from the taxi company.

But last night Miss Nagle, who was removed as a director of the Dublin firm in February, defended her running of the business.

She added that it had been her only source of income with which to support herself and her five children.

She said: ‘Having been advised of a statement made by a director in relation to my involvement in Blackrock Cabs which contained untrue allegations, I am forced to outline my involvement after my separation from my estranged husband Breifne O’Brien.

‘(When I took it over) I had five children, ranging from an infant of 6 months to a son of 18 years who was studying for his leaving certificate.

‘All of us were devastated by the revelations of my estranged husband’s business activities and the subsequent trauma to our lives.

‘In my time running Blackrock Cabs, I at all times worked in the best interests of the staff and the company’s creditors and customers.

‘I am extremely disappointed and upset at how the whole Blackrock Cabs affair has been handled.

‘The hostile approach to me, my mother and my children has been very upsetting and served no constructive purpose.’

O’Brien – once the epitome of Celtic Tiger success – came to national prominence in 2008 when he was reported to have described people who put money into his various investment schemes as ‘suckers’.

It emerged in 2008 that instead of investing all their money, he used it to pay off failed investments, pay for investments of his own and to fund a lavish lifestyle.

As well as shelling out for sports cars, designer suits and foreign holidays, O’Brien used the investors’ money to fund extravagant parties, many of which were held at his sprawling €2m home in Glenageary in south Dublin.

More than 11 former friends, including his brother-in-law, are now suing O’Brien for a total of €18m.

Yesterday, those owed money by Blackrock Cabs gasped at the creditors’ meeting when details of the amount of money flowing through its accounts were revealed.

They heard that €10m went through accounts for Blackrock Cabs between 1999 and 2009 – even though turnover during the same period was less than €5m.

Creditors also heard how payments were made from the company accounts to fund the alleged fraudster’s lavish lifestyle.

In a statement read out to creditors at a meeting held at Harcourt Hotel in central Dublin, Blackrock Cabs company director David Kearns said he conducted a review of accounts for the year 2008 and discovered ‘alarming irregularities’.

Mr Kearns said Blackrock Cabs – which had five full-time drivers and more than 40 self-employed drivers – had a legitimate turnover in 2008 of €326,000.

But he said: ‘Mr O’Brien put nearly €900,000 through his directors loan account for that year.

‘I found all sorts of payments relating to staff for his house, insurance for other businesses and payment of other loans.’

He said he also found cash payments ‘for household bills, Musgrave’s Cash & Carry, paintings for his house, foreign travel bills and bills for repairs to his personal home.

These alone amounted to €56,000.’

Mr Kearns said the remaining €850,000 ‘went through the company as a director’s loan and I have no idea what for’.

He went on to make a series of allegations against Miss Nagle. She had taken over the running of the firm in December 2008, when O’Brien’s affairs ended up in court.

He said: ‘She proceeded to pay two people who were not employed by the company but are believed to be housekeepers for her personal use.’

He said she also put through direct debits totalling around €2,000 a month, adding: ‘I was unable to find out how any of these payments related to the company.’

He claimed she had also understated the amount of money the company owed in PAYE and PRSI.

Last night Miss Nagle denied understating PAYE or PRSI and said she had made an arrangement with the Revenue Commissioners, which was drawn up by her accountant.

She said: ‘At all times while I managed the company’s affairs after December 2008, I sought and relied upon professional advices as to how the finances of the company should be arranged and dealt with further.

‘At the time of my removal from the company, I had come to a favourable agreement with the Revenue in relation to paying arrears due and for all payments going forward.’

‘My circumstances dictated that I had to take over responsibility for the operations of Blackrock Cabs in December 2008.

‘I did so at the time out of a sense of responsibility to the staff of the company, some of whom had been there for over 10 years, and to the creditors of the company.

I worked very long hours and often worked seven days a week. ‘When I assumed responsibility for the operations of the company, it was operating at a loss and the cash flow situation was precarious.

Throughout the time I was CEO, from December 2008 to January 2010, I regularly lent personal money into the company’s account to prevent it from going into unauthorised overdraft.’

She said her mother also helped out financially.

None of this details was relayed during the creditors’ meeting. At the meeting, Mr Kearns said the firm’s fixtures and fittings amount to little more than the value of scrap and he concluded: ‘This company will never be in a position to repay its creditors and is insolvent.’

The Statement of Affairs listed liabilities of €157,732, of which €77,600 is owed to the Revenue Commissioners, €18,000 to the Sheriff John Fitzpatrick and €7,132 to trade creditors.

The company’s total deficit is €102,732.

Miss Nagle is no doubt that had she been left to her own devices the company could have survived.

She said: ‘My intention when I assumed responsibility for the operations of Blackrock Cabs was firstly to stabilise the affairs of the company.

Then I wanted to put the necessary investment in place which would enable it to grow and in time realise value for the shareholders, and ensure that the company could meet its debts and discharge its creditors as they fell due.

‘My effectiveness as CEO is apparent from the company’s accounts, which show a loss-making company in 2008 moving to a break-even and marginally profitable business by December 2009.

‘The company required investment to enable it to grow its revenues and thus turn consistently profitable.

‘I had arranged two investors who were prepared to back me with my vision and commitment for the company, one of whom would have brought several large client accounts leading to a substantial jump in revenues.’

She claims, however, that due to her removal these opportunities were lost. ‘On February 2, I was removed from my position as CEO of Blackrock Cabs Limited without any notice and prevented from entering the premises or continuing its trade.

This left myself and my five children in a position where my only source of income was unilaterally cut off.

‘All in all, neither I nor my children at my mother have ever been treated or commented on in such an appalling way, where my first concern throughout my time as an employee of Blackrock Cabs was to the creditors and, most importantly, employees of the company.’

O’Brien and Ms Nagle were society darlings who hosted black-tie charity balls and mingled with Ireland’s business and entertainment elite.

But their picture perfect world came crashing down when it emerged that O’Brien was funding their lavish lifestyle by pulling ‘suckers’ into a high-stakes pyramid scheme.

The 48-year-old’s scam pulled in a number of close family and friends and led to him being dubbed ‘Ireland’s Bernie Madoff’ for running a similar ‘Ponzi’ scheme.

Once feted by Image magazine as one of the most glamorous women in Ireland, last year Ms Nagle had to ask a High Court judge for money to feed her children when her husband’s assets were frozen.

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

HARD-UP horse breeders are having their thoroughbred animals slaughtered rather than pay the cost of keeping them, it was revealed last night.

An animal welfare charity is calling for an investigation into the practice it claims is on the increase because of the worsening economic situation.

According to the charity, a leading National Hunt jockey confirmed that 18 healthy horses were sent to be destroyed simply because they failed to sell at a recent auction.

Animal Aid says the animals – which cost between E3,500 and E7,000 a year to keep – were sent to be killed after the November Foal Sales hosted by bloodstock dealers Goffs.

Just over half the 1,008 horses in the five-day sale in November failed to attract buyers and Animal Aid claims the owners of 18 animals decided to have them put down.

The horse-breeding industry soared during the Celtic Tiger years, with cash-rich developers splashing out on bloodstock.

Sales of purebred horses have, however, been falling since a peak in 2007, and the market is now saturated with horses whose owners can never expect to make huge profits.

Only a small percentage of foals are ever likely to earn substantial race winnings and, to many small breeders, sending horses to the slaughterhouse is now one of the cheapest options available to them.

Nick Nugent, director of sales at Goffs, said last night: ‘I have not heard anything about this and would happily help in any investigation.

‘The death of horses is an emotive issue but all lives come to an end and ultimately, there comes a time when some horses can’t be cared for any more. Every year, a certain number of horses are put down, as are cats, dogs and budgerigars.

‘That said, once our sales are over, Goffs is totally out of the loop when it comes to what happens to animals.’

Last night, a respected specialist in equine medicine warned people in Ireland to get used to the ‘unpalatable truth’ about horse deaths.

Des Leadon, head of clinical pathology at Co. Kildare’s Irish Equine Centre, said last night: ‘If 18 horses were sent to be destroyed humanely, as this charity has claimed, I don’t have a problem with that.

‘If the alternative is their neglect because their owners can’t afford to keep them, then I think it was the right thing to do.

‘There is an unpalatable truth to be acknowledged here and everybody needs to face up to it.’

Animal Aid’s Dean Stansall said last night: ‘We cannot name the individual who told us about the fate of 18 horses after the Goffs sale but he is a leading National Hunt jockey.

‘He was given the specific information and was so appalled that he told us about it. We have been trying to highlight the issue of over-breeding in the horse industry for years.

‘There are just too many horses and not enough races. ‘The market is collapsing and breeders are realising their animals are not worth what they thought they would be and it doesn’t make economic sense to keep them. The quickest way to deal with that problem is to have the animal killed.

‘We are going to formally request an investigation into the alleged incidents that we have been told about.’

All thoroughbred horses have to be DNA-tested and micro-chipped and when registered with Weatherbys – the company that maintains the Thoroughbred Breeding Registry in Britain and Ireland – they are issued with a horse passport.

Registered thoroughbred breeders are required to return the passports once an animal dies.

Last night, a Weatherbys spokeswoman said that the company receives about 70 or 80 passports every couple of months.

But she added: ‘It’s very hard to keep track of every animal and although owners must return their animals’ passports on death, they don’t always do so as required.’

Though there are strict Department of Agriculture guidelines on the slaughter of horses for horsemeat exports to countries such as France and Italy, it is not against the law have an animal destroyed humanely – whatever the reason.

A former employee of Goffs said: ‘When times are hard, it is not unknown for a breeder to make a call after a failed sale and have the animal taken away. When the market on the floor, vendors get desperate.

‘I know of incidents in the past when there were trucks down the lane at the back gate. There would be men waiting for a call from vendors who would then give them a few hundred and hand them over the animal.’

Mr Leadon warned that Ireland needed to be careful not to end up like America. There, breeders are releasing unwanted horses into the wild.

He said: ‘In the US, horses are being let loose into forests and deserts where they are left to fend for themselves. It is much better for a horse be put down humanely than starve.’

According to the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, Ireland has 416 stallions, 20,700 thoroughbred mares and 12,633 foals born in 2007.