Developer Michael O’Flynn said three trusted senior former employees, including Patrick Cox, son of former MEP Pat Cox, were all guilty of stealing confidential and critical information belonging to the O’Flynn group.
He said the manipulation by former investment director Patrick Cox of a young PA in what he said that the theft of nearly 37,000 documents was shocking and something Mr. Cox junior should “sincerely be ashamed of”.
O’Flynn, the group’s president and CEO, was providing evidence in a High Court case in which a number of O’Flynn companies have sued former employees Mr Cox, Liam Foley, Eoghan Kearney and four companies.
The defendants are said to have made profits of over € 12.5 million in a student housing project on Gardiner Street, Dublin, at the expense of his business using this information.
The defendants deny the claims.
O’Flynn said Cox’s conduct was “the worst I have ever encountered”. Cox had looked for “bonus payments and bonus payments” and the group was happy to welcome him, he said.
“But the money he got was used to oppose it and that was staggering.”
Mr. Cox later said he began making false accusations that O’Flynns had hidden information from Nama, who had taken over the group’s loans for 1.8 billion euros in loans, on projects in Coventry and Birmingham in England.
This, he said, was an attempt at blackmail and to dissuade the company from bringing legal action against him and his co-defendants. It was an attempt to damage his reputation that he had spent a long time earning.
Cox could have gone to Nama “if there had been something unpleasant” in the past three years, but he hadn’t, he said. But Mr. O’Flynn himself had his attorney persuaded to write to Nama summarizing the allegations he had pointed out were completely false.
O’Flynn said his differences with Nama regarding politics were well known over the years, but he had always operated “in a straight line” when dealing with Nama.
This time it was “the toughest eight years in the industry and we had to struggle to survive” drawing on the company’s experience, said O’Flynn. “But we didn’t act illegally or deprive Nama of money.”
O’Flynn told the court that his relationship with Cox’s father Pat, who was also a former president of the European Parliament, prompted him to hire the politician’s son.
He claims that while Mr. Foley quit the O’Flynn group in 2011 and Mr. Kearney ended his connection in 2013, Mr. Cox continued to work until 2015.
We agree in the event that just before leaving Mr. Cox copied around 37,000 documents.
O’Flynn says he later sent some of that material to his two co-defendants who they used to “tap into” when they needed certain information.
O’Flynn told his consultant Michael Cush that, together with Cox, Kearney and Foley, they were considered “trusted people” within the group before they left. Foley has been involved in numerous projects in England, while Kearney was responsible for the group’s acquisitions.
In an email before Mr. Cox left the company, Mr. Foley told Mr. Cox to “watch your step even more now”.
Mr. O’Flynn said “Mr. Foley and his cohorts were obviously being careful in the event that he, Cox, slipped and warned us of what was going on.”
He found it surprising when he learned that Mr. Cox had sent Foley and Kearney a confidential and highly sensitive booklet to attract investment in O’Flynn Capital Partners. Cox suggested that they could “steal” some ideas from the brochure.
O’Flynn said this is “an extraordinary word for anyone to use,” but it was obvious that the three former employees “would not lose a trick” because of O’Flynn’s experience in the industry.
O’Flynn referred to another email in which he claimed that the trio disagreed on “how they would divide the stolen pie”.
The case continues.