Businessman to stand trial over alleged €11m fraud


DUBLIN BUSINESSMAN Breifne O’Brien is to stand trial on charges of deception and theft of about €11 million in an alleged investment fraud.

The 51-year-old was arrested in Dublin yesterday morning by detectives from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation. The Cork-born financial adviser was then brought before Dublin District Court charged with 38 offences under the Theft and Fraud Offences Act.

Mr O’Brien, of Kilmore, Monkstown Grove, in south Co Dublin, faces 19 charges of theft of sums totalling about €11 million from five individuals and 19 charges for deception of the same people, which allegedly occurred between 2006 and 2008.

Mr O’Brien’s mother stood bail and he was ordered to appear again on November 1st, when he is to be served with a book of evidence.

Det Sgt Martin Griffin of the bureau told Judge Cormac Dunne that the arrest was made at 9am yesterday at the Bridewell Garda station in Dublin.

“In answer to all the charge sheets, in reply after caution, he said ‘not guilty’,” Det Sgt Griffin said.

The officer added that 19 charges were in relation to theft and there were 19 “mirror” charges for deception.

He told the court the theft and deception allegations involved five people: Martin O’Brien, Pat Doyle, Evan Newall, Louis Dowley and Daniel Maher. It is alleged that about €4 million was stolen from Mr Dowley, who is a Tipperary dairy farmer.

There was no objection to bail, and Det Sgt Griffin said Mr O’Brien had surrendered his passport and gardaí were satisfied that he resides in the State.

Mr O’Brien did not address the court during the hearing.

Judge Dunne was told that the Director of Public Prosecutions has directed “trial on indictment”, which means the case will go before a judge and jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

A theft conviction on indictment can result in a fine and a jail sentence of up to 10 years, while a person found guilty of deception can receive a fine and jail term not exceeding five years.

Judge Dunne was told that the book of evidence will be ready to be served on Mr O’Brien in six weeks, and the court heard there was no objection to his mother, Mary, standing bail for him.

Maureen Moynihan, defending, said Mrs O’Brien had a bank account with €2,000 in it, and Det Sgt Griffin agreed she had the capacity and financial resources to stand bail.

However, the judge said he was concerned whether or not she was doing so voluntarily.

“A mother standing as surety can sometimes be an involuntary and emotive decision as opposed to a rational, cold, commercial decision,” he said. He asked whether the implications of acting as an independent surety, which was set at €10,000, were understood by her.

Mrs O’Brien agreed that she was acting voluntarily and said “no I am not” when asked by the judge if she was “under any duress, emotive or otherwise”.

The judge said he had wanted to be sure she was not under “emotive coercion”, adding that “a mother’s decision-making skills in a situation like this are naturally frail” before he agreed to let her stand the bail.

Judge Dunne set the bail in Mr O’Brien’s own bond of €1,000, with the independent surety of €10,000.

The judge said the Department of Foreign Affairs is to be notified that Mr O’Brien has surrendered his passport and that he must not apply for a duplicate one.