Dodgy Solicitor Top Trumps

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Dodgy Solicitor of the Week
29 November 2013
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A Dublin lawyer has roared into the Dodgy Solicitor top trumps after being convicted of secretly signing clients' houses into his own name and then using them as collateral to raise fraudulent property loans. Thomas Byrne's thefts and frauds netted him €51.2 million.

Byrne's scheme was uncovered when one of his assistant solicitors spotted that he had forged her name on a €4.5 million bank loan document. Because it was the second time she'd caught him at it, she reported him to the Irish Law Society which closed down Bryne's firm the following week*.

During Byrne's trial the daughter of one of his deceased clients testifed that after he attended her mother's funeral he secretly 'sold' the woman's house to himself, leaving the family unable to dispose of it for five years, by which time its value had halved.

None of the transfers were documented, which Byrne agreed was "unorthodox". But he insisted his clients had all agreed to the scheme, and were now lying so that the Law Society would help them recover their homes. He graciously said their mass perjury was "not a scam. I respect them deeply, notwithstanding that we are at variance. I will not suggest that they were involved in a scam".

Bryne's Jedi mind tricks didn't work on the jury, who found him guilty of all 50 charges. He will be sentenced next week, and faces a maximum of 20 years in jail.

*Which it failed to do in 2006, when the Law Society found a deficit of €1.7m in Byrne's client account. The Irish Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal fined him €15,000 but did not recommend that he be struck off. Whoops.



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