The Garda investigation into former hockey international Catriona Carey and her company is expected to widen as gardaí are preparing to take more statements from people she dealt with and who said they paid money to her.
Ms Carey, an accountant by profession, has already been charged with five offences relating to two separate cases; one connected to her dealings with the Revenue Commissioners in 2006 and another over her dealings with a hair salon in 2018 and money she stole from that company. She was fined €750 twice and given a suspended sentence on another occasion.
The Irish Times understands she has since come to the attention of gardaí for road traffic offences and is set to appear before the courts on those charges at a later date.
Ms Carey, a Kilkenny-based former Irish international hockey player, ran a company that effectively promised to help people save their homes after their loans became distressed. Her company Careysfort Asset Estates, which is registered in the UK, took deposits from people, tens of thousands of Euro in some cases, and offered to return the fees if the deals she said she was putting in place did not materialise.
Ms Carey offered to buy her clients’ mortgage debt back from their lenders at a discounted rate and sell the debt back to the mortgage holder at the same discounted rate. As part of the arrangement, her company would offer clients the loan they needed to buy back the discounted mortgages.
People interested in the scheme were asked to pay money up front and on an RTÉ Investigates programme last week interviewees spoke of having paid sums up to €30,000.
They also alleged they were strung along by Ms Carey as she claimed she was working to put their new deals in place. Several people who spoke to reporter Paul Murphy said while Ms Carey had promised their deposits would be returned if their deals did not work out, they were still waiting for the return of the money.
Some of the people involved have come together in a group who have been put in contact with each other by one of the alleged victims of Ms Carey. And now gardaí expect more of those people to come forward and make complaints, which would be investigated alongside allegations already under investigation. Detectives also believe other people who dealt with Ms Carey will be encouraged to come forward after last week’s RTÉ documentary.
A number of complaints were received by gardaí in the Carlow-Kilkenny Garda division before the RTÉ Investigates programme was aired last week and the Garda inquiry had already begun. However, the Garda Economic Crime Bureau, a Dublin-based national unit specialising in the investigation of alleged financial crimes, is now involved in the inquiry.
Garda sources said depending on how the investigation unfolds, specifically the number of people who come forward making allegations against Ms Carey, the national unit may take a more prominent role in the investigation.
Gardaí are fearful that large sums of money, likely several hundred thousand euros, paid by clients has already been spent.
Ms Carey, who lives in a luxury home in Kilkenny, won 72 caps playing hockey for Ireland for eight years before retiring from international duty as a 28-year-old back in 2006.
She was previously sanctioned with two fines of €750 related to her income tax returns. In 2006 she issued incorrect invoices relating to her income taxes and also claimed back VAT she was not entitled to.
She was fined €750 for one of the charges relating to the incorrect invoice and the second similar charge was taken into account when that fine was imposed on her.
She was then back before the courts and given a suspended sentence two years ago arising from a separate matter in 2018. On that occasion she was convicted of altering the payee on a cheque from the collector general to her own name.
That cheque was for €6,948 and was intended to be paid by a hairdressing salon that had hired Ms Carey as an accountant. However, instead of the money being paid to the collector general, Ms Carey changed the payee to her own name, thus diverting the money to herself and stealing it. She was also convicted of the theft of the money, in February 2018, and was given the eight-month suspended sentence for the offences of both altering the cheque payee and for stealing the €6,948.
The Garda said: "An Garda Síochána is investigating a number of alleged fraud incidents relating to the activities of an asset management company. An Garda Síochána does not comment on named entities nor individuals."