A former leading GAA star accused of taking large sums of money from people for specialist medical treatment has been targeted in a Garda search as part of the criminal inquiry now under way.
The Irish Times has learned the former GAA player also presented himself to the Garda after a search was carried out at the end of last year, and that he engaged significantly with investigating detectives. It is understood he confirmed he had financial dealings with some of the people who have complained to gardaí about him.
However, whether those dealings were criminal in nature has not been proven and remains under investigation. The prominent former GAA player is understood to have agreed loan arrangements with those from whom he took money.
It is alleged he told people he knew that he was suffering from cancer and needed money to undergo specialist treatment in the US, promising to pay it back. The Garda inquiry is investigating whether he had cancer or not, and whether he took money from people after deceiving them, though no findings against him have been arrived at.
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To date, the people who have gone to gardaí and made statements of complaint have alleged they gave the former GAA player sums ranging from a few thousand euro to more than €100,000. One man who has known the former player for some time has claimed he gave him €120,000.
It is alleged the former player approached friends, acquaintances and business associates for money, with specialist medical treatment at the centre of all, or most, of his requests.
The criminal inquiry into the allegations is being carried out by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau. Detectives from the bureau last December visited a premises where the player was staying and carried out a search, taking away some items for examination.
Soon after those searches the GAA star went to gardaí, presenting himself for interview though he was not under arrest. He addressed questions gardaí put to him about their inquiry into the allegations made about him. Sources said the former player appeared to have gone through a difficult time in his personal life and one described his circumstances as “poor” when he was targeted in the search last December.
Detectives believe some of the complainants had been suspicious for a long period about how their money had been spent and whether the loans they extended to him would be repaid. When some became concerned they were not going to be repaid, or that efforts to secure repayment had become protracted, they began inquiring about the former player and heard of other people who had also given him sums of money.
Gardaí believe some of the complainants were effectively emboldened by learning others had also loaned the former player money and several of them decided to take their concerns to the Garda. Sources within the Garda said as the search was carried out last December, they were surprised news of the investigation had not emerged in the media before this week.
The Garda investigation has also involved a study of the former GAA star’s financial dealings and expenditure over a period of at least two years, included a close review of any personal or business bank accounts linked to him.