December 14: Collins puts spotlight on ‘dubious property trust’

The emergence of a dubious property Trust which claims to help people who are facing the grim prospect of having their family home repossessed was raised in the Dáil by Limerick Fianna Fáil Deputy Niall Collins.

The emergence of a dubious property Trust which claims to help people who are facing the grim prospect of having their family home repossessed was raised in the Dáil by Limerick Fianna Fáil Deputy Niall Collins.

As a consequence of the desperate circumstances in which people find themselves, a highly dubious property trust has emerged claiming to be able to save people’s homes on the basis of a lacuna in the law of which, apparently, only the people operating the trust are aware, he said.

“They have consistently refused to enlighten anybody as to how it works. In the year to date, it has been reported, up to 2,000 people, many of them high-profile business people, came into contact with the trust and, in a last-ditch attempt to remain in control of their debt-laden properties, have engaged with it.

“They put their faith in this mysterious property trust, known as the Rodolphus Allen Trust, which claimed it had found a way to split mortgages from properties. In exchange for this promise of protecting people’s properties, the trust is charging an administration fee in the order of €200 to €250 and a per folio charge of up to €100. There have been reports of up to 200 people turning up at signing-on sessions.”

These, he said, were aided and facilitated by a notary public, who has since seen the light of day and desisted from being involved.

“The trust has also made claims of up to hundreds of millions of euro from receivers and banks, which are working through some of these distressed properties,” he said. “It has also written to people claiming the rent rolls on commercial properties.

“In August a mob - that is the best way of describing it - was led by the trust to a stud farm in County Kildare and took over the property,” he said.

“The people involved then withdrew from the property and it was eventually taken into possession by the receivers. All of this has been high profile and widely reported. The individuals at the centre of the trust are highly mobile, moving from one end of the country to the other and moving out of the jurisdiction. While it is not our business, it is a fact that similar organisations have been operating outside the jurisdiction, in the North in particular.”

In reply, Minister of State Kathleen Lynch said the Property Registration Authority is the State authority which manages and controls the Land Registry and Registry of Deeds.

“I am advised by the authority that in recent months over 500 applications for the registration of notices of certificates of acknowledgement of the living man’s claim of right were received in the Land Registry,” she said.

“Based on the third party witness common to all these documents, it appears they originated in the trust in question. The notices of certificates of acknowledgement appear to be applications to record on a State register the acknowledgement of the living man.

“Freemen on the Land is one of several groups, originating in Canada and the USA, which advances the notion that the legal person and living person are two distinct entities. Under the belief system, the living person is not bound by law or court rulings unless and until the living person or freeman contracts to accept such law.

“Obtaining an entry on a State register of the recognition of the living man or freeman on the land is often a first tactical step within these groups. These applications were all rejected by the Property Registration Authority.”

O’Donovan calls for guidelines on broadcasting social media comments

The need to introduce guidelines, regulations or other legal instruments to cover the issue of user-generated content being broadcast on TV, radio or other broadcast platforms was raised in the Dáil by Deputy Patrick O’Donovan.

“My issue is with broadcasting first party comments by third parties through tweets, text messages and so on, especially for persons operating in a political context,” he said.

“If an anonymous person using a platform is broadcast by a national or regional broadcaster without any attention being paid to the fact it could be a hoax tweet, text or email, the damage can be substantial.”

In reply, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said social media have not been subject to a formal regulatory regime akin to that used to regulate traditional radio and television broadcast media, either in Ireland or other jurisdictions. “There is a range of reasons for this, not least the rapidly evolving nature of the technologies involved, the sensitivities around regulating media and the multi-jurisdictional nature of the Internet.”