Developer found not guilty in corrupt payments trial

Tuesday 09 July 2013 22.03
Michael Ryan was found not guilty
Michael Ryan was found not guilty

A property developer has walked free from court after a jury found him not guilty of making corrupt payments to a politician in 2006.

Michael Ryan, 60, with addresses at The Sweepstakes, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 and Al Eile Stud, Kilgobnet, Dungarvan, pleaded not guilty at Waterford Circuit Court to three charges of making corrupt payments totalling €80,000 in 2006.

The three payments were alleged to have been made to Fred Forsey Jnr, who was then a member of Dungarvan town council, as a reward for him using his position as a councillor to help secure the rezoning of a piece of agricultural land to allow industrial and residential development.

A jury returned unanimous "not guilty" verdicts this afternoon after just under an hour of deliberation.

Mr Ryan gave a "thumbs-up" sign to his family and friends in the courtroom when the verdicts were read out and there were cheers from his supporters.

Mr Ryan himself did not give evidence during the trial but records of a number of interviews conducted by gardaí with him, after he was arrested in 2009, were read to the jury last week.

In these, Mr Ryan repeatedly denied that the payments of €60,000, €10,000 and €10,000 which he made to Fred Forsey in August, October and December of 2006, were corrupt or in any way connected a piece of land outside Dungarvan.

He told detectives that the money was a loan to Mr Forsey who had approached him earlier that summer and told him he wanted to buy two houses in Dungarvan, for the purposes of selling them on before the contracts closed, and needed a loan of €70,000.

The €10,000 in December was for "extras," Mr Ryan told gardaí. 

He always intended to get repaid and was "anxious" to get his money back, he said, but Mr Forsey went to live in Australia in 2007 and he never did get paid.