Debtors offered an out but can they trust it?
on 07/09/2013 00:00:00
In an adjoining room, a photocopier was in constant use, printing out a series of declarations and deeds that would record these people's decisions to enter the trust.
Also in this room was a notary public, an officer to simply record that people were not acting under duress. And, for most of the day, trust organiser Charlie Allen was present to co-sign each person's documents.
Most people had made arrangements to enter the trust in advance, either through Mr Allen himself, his staff in Kilkenny, or through a representative in Cork, JJ O'Mahony.
Mr O'Mahony was not present on the day but had advised people of the change of venue after plans to hold the signing-in session in Mitchelstown were scuppered by the decision of a notary public in Cork to cut his ties with group.
Previously, Mr O'Mahony had been linked to a controversial investment product, Banners Broker.
Most of those who arrived at yesterday's event at the Bel Air Hotel were middle-aged and male. Car registration plates on vehicles parked in the driveway, as well as accents of those in the hotel, suggested they had come from all across the country.
Mr Allen did speak to some people before the arrival of the notary public.
These debtors were not promised any 'magic bullet' solution. One of the trust's staff could be heard to explain that the banks would not go away. However, according to her, they would be put on the back foot.
She said that the worst-case scenario was that the banks would have a weaker hand in negotiations to cut a deal with borrowers.
Early in the morning, Mr Allen sat with one group of four people who, between them, owned a pub, a hotel, industrial units, a farm, and up to 20 houses.
Mr Allen said word of his trust had primarily spread among friends and he was typically attracting people with multiple folios.
He said he could only deal with the owners of each property - and if a partner was not willing to support the transaction, the deal was off.
He did not promise anything and stressed that those with doubts were better advised to stay away.
He expressed scepticism of those who had arrangements with the banks because ultimately, he felt, the banks would sell the assets and leave the person with nothing.
Mr Allen explained that he was not looking for money from people who were trying to protect their family homes.
But where other properties were involved, he asked for 10% of whatever the security was that was being placed into his care.
The confrontation he led at the Kennyscourt stud farm in Kildare last weekend was cited as an early sign of the success of the trust.
Mr Allen said he was expecting a court action to be triggered by the receivers of Kennyscourt but, so far, they had shied away.
His own security remains on site. Those he was talking to suggested that the gardaí who were on site that day would not have left the stud if the trust was without merit.
Afterwards, the Irish Examiner, posing as a potential entrant, received trust documents to sign.
These included a deed that put the assets into the Rodolphus Allen Private Family Trust. There was a cert granting Mr Allen specific power of attorney over the properties and an acknowledgment that the decision to join the trust was done by each person of their own free will.
A further document set out the aspirations of the trust.
It reads that the trust is committed to "absorbing knowledge worth knowing and preserving the wisdom of truth for future generations".
The document, executed by Mr Allen, also said the trust it aspired to provide "a share of the fruits of our sweat equity and our community free of financial charge or interest, as and when required, appropriate and necessary, in accordance with our pledges to be individually responsible for our mutually beneficial and harmonious cooperative trade network".
It read that the trust also endeavoured to "identify, and fulfil our true purpose on this planet, as unique fragments of Divine Consciousness, in our eternal quest of self realisation".
The trust document also read that it "loves every sentient being without conditions for all eternity".