Men plead guilty over Offaly land deal

Monday 03 March 2014 17.35
John Duffy and Tony McAuliffe will be sentenced at the end of the month
John Duffy and Tony McAuliffe will be sentenced at the end of the month

A former solicitor and his client admitted borrowing over €8.8m from a bank to buy land in Co Offaly, which is now worth just €30,000.

John Duffy, 44, from Clogheen, Monasterevin in Co Kildare and his client, Tony McAuliffe, 71, from French Furze, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining a loan of the money from Investec Bank with the intention of making a gain in March 2007.

Judge Leonie Reynolds said she will sentence the two men at the end of the month.

McAuliffe took out the €8.8m loan from Investec to buy 55 acres on the Arden Road outside Tullamore.

The land was valued at €12m, with the sand and gravel on it worth another €5m.

The court was told that McAuliffe is functionally illiterate but Duffy created and prepared the contract and a letter saying that he had a deposit of €7m, which was untrue, from a prospective purchaser for the land.

Detective Sergeant Patrick Linehan of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation gave evidence that the deal could not have gone ahead without Duffy.

Investec Bank lent the money but never got it back although it subsequently received €1.75m from an indemnity.

The court was told McAuliffe tried to get the land and flip it, but no buyer was found for it.

His defence counsel Conor Devally said the case is a lesson that the country has learned in the madness of "get rich quick" before the property bubble burst.