Galway credit union confirms €87,000 refund to members

Gardaí to investigate unauthorised transactions by former staff member in 2016

The issues involving St Anthony’s and Claddagh credit union is the third report of credit union financial irregularities in the last 7 days. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The issues involving St Anthony’s and Claddagh credit union is the third report of credit union financial irregularities in the last 7 days. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

 

A credit union in Galway has refunded €87,000 to 31 accounts after it discovered “unauthorised transactions” involving a staff member.

St Anthony’s and Claddagh Credit Union (SACU) has confirmed that it has dealt with an incident “involving unauthorised transactions on member accounts by a staff member”.

The incident, which occurred in August 2016, affected 31 accounts to the value of €87,000. In a statement to The Irish Times, the organisation said it contacted the members impacted by the incident following the discovery and their money was refunded to their accounts immediately.

The replenishment of client accounts was covered through the credit union’s insurance company, “which insured the credit union’s costs were fully covered with no additional cost to SACU or any of the members.”

“The staff member involved is no longer working with the organisation, and the relevant information has been supplied to An Garda Síochána who are continuing with their investigation,” the statement continued.

A spokeswoman for the Gardaí confirmed an investigation at a financial institution in Galway, with a file being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In addition, a spokesman for the Central Bank said it is aware of a number of irregular transactions in SACU in 2016, but that “confidentiality provisions in legislation prevent the Central Bank from discussing individual firms”.

Members

St Anthony’s and Claddagh Credit Union has three branches in Co Galway. Two are in the city, at Mainguard St and in Westside, and the other is located in Oughterard. It has 43,000 members and holds about €200 million in assets.

“Following a full review and investigation into the incident some amendments were made to our internal processes which we continue to keep under review,” said Gerry Joyce, chief executive of the credit union. He went on to assure members that there are no issues at present at the financial institution.

A spokeswoman for the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) said: “While the ILCU cannot comment on any individual credit union, any instance of fraud perpetrated against a credit union is totally unacceptable.”

In a statement on Wednesday, the ILCU said credit unions differ from other financial institutions in that when incidents of fraud occur, they often come to the attention of the public whereas with other institutions those issues may be dealt with behind closed doors.

Asked if the league stands by that statement in light of the SACU case, the spokeswoman said: “The statement was referring to the fact that credit unions are democratic, owned by their members and communicate directly with their members, through the annual general meeting process.”

She would not be drawn on the specific differences on the issue of transparency between credit unions and other financial institutions.

The issues in Galway come in the wake of reports of financial irregularities at two credit unions in Co Cork in the past week. Synergy Credit Union, in Fermoy, recently investigated net unauthorised transactions in excess of €400,000, while it emerged on Wednesday that gardaí are investigating after a case of fraud was discovered at Gurranabraher Credit Union.

Separately, a series of investigations were carried out into missing funds at the Rush Credit Union in north Co Dublin last year. There is no suggestion that any of these cases are connected.

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