Accountant advised Clayton to remove assistant as signatory

Thu, Jun 21, 2012, 01:00

A FORMER business adviser of Adam Clayton’s has told a trial he recommended the U2 member remove his personal assistant as a cheque signatory as soon as she had admitted spending some of his money on herself.

Accountant Gaby Smyth told the trial of Carol Hawkins, the former personal assistant of Mr Clayton’s accused of stealing almost €3 million, that in 2008 Ms Hawkins went to Mr Clayton to confess she had spent €15,325.70 of his money on airline flights for her benefit.

Ms Hawkins (48) of Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 181 counts of theft from two of Mr Clayton’s Bank of Ireland accounts over a four-year period from 2004 to 2008. The alleged thefts totalled €2,869,274. Mr Smyth told prosecuting counsel Colm O’Briain that Ms Hawkins did not mention to him she had written cheques to herself.

He said he informed Ms Hawkins of the new procedures in September 2008: she was to continue being Mr Clayton’s administrator but was to have no further access to his banking facilities.

He also said she was being removed as cheque signatory to Mr Clayton’s two bank accounts – Danesmoate and Fitzwilliam – but that she was to have access to a credit card to pay household expenses for Mr Clayton.

He said prior to 2007, when he became aware Ms Hawkins was having marriage difficulties, her work “appeared to be efficient”.

“I found it more difficult to get in touch with her when I became aware of her marriage difficulties,” he said, explaining he was required to receive monthly data to compile a report from Ms Hawkins to maintain Mr Clayton’s account records.

He said he did not reconcile the two accounts as this was part of Ms Hawkins’s role but that if he had been aware of cheques written by her being lodged to her own accounts for large amounts he “would have been concerned”.

Mr Smyth agreed with defence counsel, Ken Fogarty SC, that Ms Hawkins had had unlimited authority to make payments on Mr Clayton’s behalf since the 1990s.

He said from 2004 to 2008 Ms Hawkins was responsible for making payments to architects and interior designers for major renovation works costing nearly €20 million for Mr Clayton’s properties in Ireland and France.

Mr Fogarty put it to Mr Smyth that “ordinary mortals might not know the scope and scale of responsibility Ms Hawkins had to keep the show on the road, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” “It was a committed job,” said Mr Smyth.

Mr Clayton (52) is expected to give evidence this morning.

The trial continues before Judge Patrick McCartan.