Former solicitor charged with €2.8 million fraud

Ruairi O Ceallaigh accused of taking money out of client account of family firm

Former solicitor Ruari O Ceallaigh (left) with his father Sean O Ceallaigh (right) leaving Dublin District Court today. Photograph: Collins.

Former solicitor Ruari O Ceallaigh (left) with his father Sean O Ceallaigh (right) leaving Dublin District Court today. Photograph: Collins.

Thu, Dec 5, 2013, 13:30

A former solicitor is to stand trial accused of stealing client funds of almost €3 million from his family-run law firm.

Officers from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation arrested Ruairi O Ceallaigh by appointment in Dublin this morning at 9.35 and brought him to the Bridewell Garda station where he was charged with seven offences under the Theft and Fraud Act.

He is accused of misappropriation of approximately €2.8 million, over a four-year period, from accounts at law firm, Sean O Ceallaigh & Company, which is based in Phibsboro, in Dublin.

Following his arrest, the 42-year-old, who has an address at Collegeland, Summerhill, Co Meath, was brought to appear before Judge Patricia Ryan at Dublin District Court.

His father, Sean O Ceallaigh, stood €5,000 bail for his son who was remanded on bail to appear again at the same court on January 16th next when he is to be served with a book of evidence and returned for trial.

Dressed in a dark suit, blue shirt and striped tie, he sat silently with his hands clasped in his lap, as Detective Sergeant Paschal Walsh said the 42-year-old “had no reply” when the charges were put to him this morning.

Det-Sgt Walsh said the DPP has directed that Ruairi O Ceallaigh is to face “trial on indictment”, which means his case will go before a judge and jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

There was no objection to bail in his own bond of €200 and defence solicitor Michael Hanahoe also told Judge Ryan that it had already been agreed with the garda that the accused’s father Sean O Ceallaigh could act as an independent surety in the sum of €5,000.

Sean O Ceallaigh, from Castleknock, in Dublin, gave evidence to say he was willing to stand bail for his son. “Yes, I understand,” he told Mr Hanahoe, who had advised him that the bail money will be forfeited if his son fails to turn up to a subsequent court hearing.

No other conditions were sought, the court also heard, and the former solicitor, who has not yet indicated how he will plead, then took up bail.

It is alleged that between September 30th and November 27th, 2008, he dishonestly appropriated €1,551,366, in relation to a named estate. The remaining six counts relate to dishonest appropriation of various sums in client accounts of six other individuals. In these matters, it is alleged he dishonestly appropriated: €134,831 on March 12th, 2009; €151,078 on June 27th, 2009; €250,000 on July 18th, 2006; €509,646 between October 22nd, 2009 and May 28th the following year; €75,000 on October 22nd, 2009 and €144,644 between August 27th and September 30th, 2009.

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