AN IRISH solicitor has been arrested in Brazil, five years after fleeing Ireland, leaving behind debts of about £70 million.
Michael Lynn, 44, was arrested on Thursday night in the state of Pernambuco in north-east Brazil on an extradition warrant issued by the Irish authorities.
He is facing dozens of fraud-related charges, after leaving behind scores of furious investors, many of whom lost tens of thousands of euros in property deals that turned sour as Ireland’s Celtic Tiger economy collapsed.
They lost their money after attempting to buy property in Portugal, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Hungary through Lynn’s Kendar company.
After leaving Ireland, Lynn, originally from County Mayo moved between a number of European countries and the United States before settling in Brazil. He was granted a Brazilian visa in June 2012 because he has a child who was born in the country.
There is no extradition treaty between Brazil and Ireland, meaning the previously Dublin-based solicitor appeared beyond the reach of the law in Ireland.
However, the department of justice in Ireland said the two countries had agreed to start negotiations on a bilateral extradition treaty. “They have also agreed that, pending the conclusion of the extradition treaty, they would treat each other’s requests for extradition on the basis of reciprocity,” a statement from the department said.
Lynn has not been seen in Ireland since a warrant was issued for his arrest five years ago after he failed to turn up in the High Court. In an interview earlier this year, he said he had no intention of returning to Ireland “for the foreseeable future”. He added: “I will not be made a scapegoat for corrupt bankers.”
It is understood Lynn set up a property company in Brazil.
He previously claimed he would try to ensure investors got their money back, or got the properties they had paid for.
Attempts by Irish police to track down Lynn suffered significant delays because some financial institutions that were allegedly scammed out of money by him had been slow in lodging formal complaints against him.
Some of his clients gave money to him to complete transactions for them, which they allege they have lost.
A number of properties held in his name have been repossessed in his absence, including his former home at Sandymount, in Dublin.
Lynn was spoken to by police in Hungary in August 2009, but no criminal issue arose and he was free to go. He had agreed to meet Irish police at a location in Europe in July last year, but the meeting fell through.
The Law Society in Dublin first reported complaints against Lynn to Irish police in October 2007. He practised in Capel Street in Dublin but was struck off by the president of the High Court in 2008 and fined €1 million (£850,000).
Last December, it emerged the Law Society was trying to recoup about €2m it is owed by fugitive former solicitor.
The Law Society has held discussions with a Brazilian law firm about the possibility of it taking legal action in that country to try to recoup some of the money paid out by its compensation fund to victims of the fugitive solicitor.