Callely questioned over alleged expenses fraud


FORMER FIANNA Fáil politician Ivor Callely was still being questioned by gardaí last night as part of a criminal investigation into allegations that he fraudulently claimed expenses for mobile phones on falsified receipts while a Dáil deputy and minister of state.

The 53-year-old was arrested close to his home on St Laurence’s Rd in Clontarf, north Dublin, at midday yesterday.

He was taken to Irishtown Garda station in the south inner city for questioning by members of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation.

He was arrested on suspicion of alleged breaches of a section of the Theft and Fraud Offences Act, which prohibits the commission of fraud using “false instruments”.

If an offence of using false or fraudulent paperwork – known under law as a “false instrument” — were proven, it would carry a sanction on conviction of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

After his arrest, Mr Callely was detained at Irishtown station under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, which allows for a suspect’s detention for up to 24 hours without charge.

Mr Callely’s home was searched, as was his nearby office, formerly his constituency office when he was involved in politics.

The Irish Times understands that his arrest was part of a planned operation by gardaí but was not expected by Mr Callely.

In many Garda investigations into alleged white-collar crime, suspects often arrange to meet gardaí at a designated Garda station to be taken into detention for questioning. However, the desire on the part of the investigating detectives to search Mr Callely’s home and office meant the element of surprise was used.

The allegations Mr Callely was being questioned about centre on receipts he lodged with the Oireachtas over a number of years to support claims for mobile phones and telephone car kits over a number of years totalling some €3,000.

Some 18 months ago, a newspaper report following a Freedom of Information request revealed that a company on whose headed paper the receipts were lodged had ceased trading years before the dates on which Mr Callely claimed he availed of its services.

Mr Callely filed a series of invoices from Business Communications Ltd, which was based in Fairview, Dublin 3, to the Oireachtas to support a claim for €3,000 in mobile phone expenses between 2002 and 2006. Business Communications ceased trading in 1994.

The Garda investigation into the matter has been under way for over a year. It is trying to establish how invoices on the headed paper of a company that had ceased trading so long ago were used to generate expenses payments to Mr Callely.