Accountant accused of part in misappropriation of up to €7.9m

Businessman claims he was victim of ‘devastating fraud’ perpetrated by accountancy firm and related parties

AN engineer and businessman has claimed he was the victim of a “devastating fraud” in which his accountant and others allegedly misappropriated €7.9million of his assets and income.

Patrick Wheelock, a piping design engineer from Moneyhore, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, claims an "elaborate and extensive fraud" was perpetrated by Michael and Dolores O'Leary, and by Justin McConville, practising as Michael O'Leary & Co, tax and management consultants, Wexford town. He also claims the O'Learys' son Andrew, of Ballintemple in Cork, their daughter Sinéad and her husband Thomas Bolger, both of Killurin, Co Wexford, were involved.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern yesterday transferred the case to the Commercial Court list.

In an affidavit, Mr Wheelock claims his signature had been forged on various business and legal documents, including loan facility letters, security instruments, tax returns and Companies Registration Office returns.


He claims the accountants had last March claimed Mr Wheelock gave Michael O’Leary power of attorney authorising Mr O’Leary to sign certain legal agreements on his behalf. Mr Wheelock says this is a baseless claim.

Mr Wheelock says he first became aware of the alleged fraud in December 2013 when his name was published on a tax defaulters’ list arising from false tax returns allegedly made on his behalf by the accountants.

He says the extent of the alleged fraud became apparent when he received a demand from a Nama company seeking repayment of €2.6 million in loans. He had not borrowed any money from the financial institutions from which the loans were taken out and which had been transferred to Nama, he says.

Since then, he has been trying to unravel the precise nature and scale of the fraud which, he says, stretches back to 1980. During that time, he had “reposed complete trust” in his accountants for his financial and business affairs.

Among funds he alleges were misappropriated was his 50 per cent share from a "highly profitable" development of 153 homes on land he bought at Monvoy, Co Waterford, in 1989.

Using a company called Salpol, the accountants invoiced third parties for work he did as a piping design engineer but he had received no income from that company, he says. He believes Sinéad O'Leary and her husband Thomas Bolger had "unlawfully extracted" money from Salpol at his expense.

He says the two O'Leary children and Mr Bolger were officers in a company, Archdale Construction, which was involved in the development of Monvoy and from which substantial sums were expropriated.

Mr Wheelock says his solicitors have received little by way of response to the allegations, and to requests for information, from the defendants other than what he contends is the false claim Mr Wheelock had signed power of attorney.

He claims he became aware of the existence of an account in his local Ulster Bank under his name from which withdrawals of €89,860 were made and of which he has no knowledge. The monies were used to pay restaurant, supermarket and hotel bills in Wexford and Dublin in which he had no involvement, he claims.

There were also online payments from the account totalling €81,496 in favour of Sinéad O’Leary, he alleges.

His legal proceedings have been served on all defendants with the exception of Andrew O’Leary who may, Mr Wheelock claims, be living in “an unidentified location in Spain”.