Friday 30 October 2009

Jackson Way rezoning action to be heard next year

AN ALLEGED beneficial owner of Jackson Way Properties (JWP), Jim Kennedy, is to give evidence to the High Court disputing claims by jailed lobbyist Frank Dunlop made in support of an action by the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) against JWP over its €53 million alleged unjust enrichment from the rezoning of lands in south Dublin.

The action will be heard sometime after October next year and is likely to last up to 12 weeks.

JWP had applied last July to have the action dismissed on grounds a number of affidavits for Cab, including one from Mr Dunlop and another from Det Supt John O’Mahoney of Cab, contained inadmissible hearsay evidence. Cab opposed the motions, describing them as “one last desperate throw of the dice” by JWP to avoid the action.

Mr Justice Kevin Feeney adjourned the case to yesterday to allow JWP file replying affidavits in which the allegedly inadmissible evidence should be specifically identified.

Yesterday, the judge heard several affidavits filed for JWP, including one by Mr Kennedy, with an address in Gibraltar, which took issue with many of the claims made against the company.

The judge also heard JWP is subpoenaing 11 people, including councillors Liam Cosgrave and Tony Fox, for the trial of the action.

Cian Ferriter, for Cab, said it was neither tenable nor practical to determine the motions by JWP at this stage of the proceedings.

Mr Ferriter said JWP was making “a wholesale attack” on the claims by Mr Dunlop but should do that at the full hearing, not via a preliminary motion.

Mr Dunlop would have to examine enormous material given to Cab by the JWP side and there were “logistical difficulties” getting that material to him where he was “presently confined”.

Declan McGrath, for JWP, said there was “a serious issue of principle” relating to the extent to which hearsay evidence is admissible under the 1996 Proceeds of Crime Act. It was his case the Act allowed only a very limited exception to the normal hearsay rule.

Mr Justice Feeney said he received some 13 affidavits, plus large quantities of exhibits, on Wednesday evening and this raised issues about how the case was to proceed.

After exchanges between the sides and the court, it was agreed JWP would not proceed with its motions but the sides would instead try to agree net issues in the case. Both sides also agreed on a timetable for the exchange of further affidavits with a view to the case going to full hearing some time in autumn 2010.

In the action, Cab claims a €53 million hike in the value of 17 acres of lands owned by JWP at Carrickmines after rezoning was a direct result of “corrupt conduct in procuring the rezoning decision” and amounted to “corrupt enrichment” of JWP under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Cab, which obtained freezing orders over the land in 2005 pending the outcome of its action, believes the rezoning decision was procured by corrupt payments to councillors made by Mr Dunlop.

Irish Times

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