Auditor finds EU funds in account linked to ex-senior garda

Interim internal report submitted to Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan

A Garda internal audit completed in 2008 showed money was being transferred from the Cepol bank account to the laundry account in the Garda college. The money was then used to pay for the accommodation costs of delegates involved in the courses. File photograph:  Oli Scarff/Getty Images

A Garda internal audit completed in 2008 showed money was being transferred from the Cepol bank account to the laundry account in the Garda college. The money was then used to pay for the accommodation costs of delegates involved in the courses. File photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

 

A Garda auditor has identified the possible fraudulent abuse of European Union money at the Garda college in Templemore.

An interim report by the Garda’s head of internal audit, Niall Kelly, has been submitted to Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

It is understood Mr Kelly identified a bank account in Cabra, Dublin, which was in the name of a former senior officer, containing EU funds.

Mr Kelly met the commissioner last Friday to outline the contents of his report, and submitted his interim findings to Ms O’Sullivan yesterday.

The commissioner is understood to have been advised of the potential need for the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (NECB) to get involved. The NECB investigates serious and complex cases of commercial fraud.

The Irish Times has previously reported concerns regarding the use of EU funds by gardaí at the college, including the possibility of money from the EU agency for law enforcement, Cepol, being diverted to the Cabra bank account.

The funds from Cepol had been designated for training courses for individual gardaí but are alleged to have been used for flights and the purchase of personal devices.

In a letter to the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last night, Mr Kelly said he has discussed the contents of the report with the Garda’s head of legal affairs, Ken Ruane.

The draft report, which examines activity as far back as 1998, has also been sent to the Garda Deputy Commissioner John Twomey due to Mr Kelly’s suspicions that “fraudulent activity may have occurred”.

Ms O’Sullivan is due to give evidence before the PAC today.

Mr Kelly has been carrying out a specific inquiry into the college’s use of EU money for a number of months.

Claims being assessed

The matter has been referred by an unnamed member of the Garda to the European Court of Auditors and European Anti-Fraud Office for examination. Neither have opened formal investigations but both are assessing the claims made by the member.

The court of auditors has said it had forwarded the submission “to our audit department responsible for this area”. The court is now due “to analyse the information and, where appropriate, use it for planning future audit tasks”.

A Garda internal audit completed in 2008 showed money was being transferred from the Cepol bank account to the laundry account in the Garda college. The money was then used to pay for the accommodation costs of delegates involved in the courses.

College restaurant

The audit report stated: “It is difficult to ascertain the reason why these charges are being allocated and lodged to the laundry a/c. In certain circumstances these payments have been paid to the college restaurant initially and then paid subsequently to the laundry account. The financial regulatory practices governing this account are poor.

“Once monies are lodged to this account, the controls placed on the authorising process of expenditure through this account are lax.”

The audit recommended that the bank account for Cepol is reconciled and all surplus funds credited back to the Department of Justice.