Thursday 22 August 2019

Hynes was 'cunning, clever and conniving' investor tells tribunal

A CROSSABEG man, who told a tribunal that he and his wife invested €300,000 in property ventures proposed by Wexford accountant Alan Hynes, described him as 'cunning, clever and conniving'.

John Power, of Power Life and Pensions, Crossabeg, told the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board tribunal that he was one of 15 investors who had made statements to the Garda Fraud Bureau and he urged other investors to do the same, the Irish Times reports.

'They have nothing to fear or be ashamed of in telling their story to the Garda.'

Mr. Power said that one investor in Tuskar Asset Management, a property development company established by Mr Hynes in late 2006, had asked him before he died in 2011, to promise that he would 'get justice'

The tribunal was hearing evidence into complaints against Mr Hynes. A number of the complaints relate to his actions in relation to Tam, which is now in liquidation, and which raised millions of euro from investors to fund property development projects.

The tribunal has heard that Mr Hynes got investors to sign powers of attorney allowing him to raise bank loans for Tam and that Mr Hynes signed joint and several bank guarantees on behalf of the investors while borrowing funds for Tam.

When called to give evidence, Mr Power asked if he could begin with a personal statement. He said he had witnessed too much suffering, hardship and financial destruction that in his opinion has been caused by the actions of Mr Hynes.

'In particular, by not informing investors about personal guarantees, he has unleashed a financial tsunami that has destroyed lives and still hangs over investors to this very day. Bank of Scotland Ireland wrote to investors just before Christmas calling in the personal guarantees.'

He said some investors had been ruined financially while others were suffering ill health.

'Dr Nicholas Mahon (from Sandymount) paid the ultimate price,' he said.

'The financial stress and strain played very heavy on Nick and his health suffered as a result of this and before he died on June 4th 2011, he made me promise him that I would see this process through and get justice.'

Mr Power said he and his wife invested €300,000 in property ventures proposed by Mr Hynes after he and the accountant had become personal friends. Their families had holidayed together. He described Mr Hynes as 'cunning, clever and conniving'.

Mr. Power also criticised the regulatory board process saying he had made his complaint in January 2009 and it had taken five years for the tribunal to come about.

'Investors found the whole process was very one-sided, and by that I mean in favour of the member (Mr Hynes),' up until the Chartered Accountants Ireland complaints committee decided Mr Hynes had a prima facia case to answer,' said Mr. Power.

He said complainants were totally put off progressing their complaints as a result of how the complaint was handled.

Mr Power said he became a director of Tam after it was incorporated in late 2006 and that he helped put in place structures that allowed people put their pension money into the investment vehicle. He said some of these were clients of his financial services company.

He said although he was on the board, he did not see management accounts for Tam. He was told by Mr Hynes that his accountancy firm, Hynes & Co, which was providing management services to Tam, didn't have the necessary software as yet.

'I trusted Mr Hynes,' he said. He said he never saw the bank guarantee documents that were signed on his, Mr Power's behalf, by Mr Hynes. Mr Hynes 'never explained to us that he was stitching us into' joint and several guarantees, he said.

The tribunal is investigating a number of complaints against Mr.Hynes, including the alleged diversion or misappropriation of client funds.

It is alleged that he may be liable to disciplinary action for the breaching of the code of ethics of Chartered Accountants Ireland.

Barrister Brian Farren BL, for the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board, said one of the complaints against Mr Hynes related to a co-ownership investment development in Dundrum, Dublin, called The Laurels, which was not a Tuskar Asset Management development.

While the phrase diversion or misappropriation of funds was deleted from some complaints forwarded to the disciplinary tribunal, this was not the case in the complaint dealing with the Dundrum issue, he said.

The tribunal heard that after investor Mr Darren McCourt asked Grant Thornton to look at the affairs of the Laurels deal in 2008, an investigation by the accountancy firm found that the project was to have equity of €8 million invested.

Inquiries by Aengus Burns of Grant Thornton concluded that investors had paid at least €7.5 million towards the project by transferring funds to Seamus Maguire & Co, solicitors, who were acting in the development.

Some of the investors, including Mr Hynes' wife, Noreen, did not respond to requests for information concerning their investments, accounting for a sum of approximately €500,000 about which he could not come to definitive findings, Mr Burns said. This could account for the difference between the sum of €7.5 million which he had verified as being invested, and the €8 million that was to have been invested as per the co-ownership plan.

He said his examination of the books surrounding the development, which was eventually placed in receivership, raised questions about a 'purported payment' of €484,000 recorded in accounts kept by Mr Hynes' accountancy firm, Hynes & Co, as having been paid to Tuskar Property Holdings, an entity associated with Mr Hynes. However he wasn't able to trace the payment being made in the bank accounts he examined.

The hearing was told that Grant Thornton was informed by Seamus Maguire & Company that some money invested in the project was used to pay stamp duty on a development in Maynooth, County Kildare, and this was done on the instructions of Mr. Hynes.

The Tribunal, which has been adjourned until March 4, has asked Mr. Hynes to respond when it reconvenes into which points he will be contesting.

Wexford People

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