Gardaí investigating alleged corrupt practices at the Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (ETB) have arrested a man, bringing to eight the number of people detained to date in the ongoing investigation.
The latest suspect to be questioned was arrested on Friday morning by detectives from the Anti-Corruption Unit within the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB).
The man, who is in his 50s, was being questioned at Naas Garda station, and his arrest was described as significant in the context of the ongoing investigation.
He was arrested for the office of “conspiracy contrary to Section 71 of the Criminal Justice Act” and was being detained under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, which allows for any suspect’s detention for up to seven days without charge. The man’s arrest was the last phase of Operation Lakefront.
Issues about the Kildare and Wicklow ETB were raised in a Department of Education investigation and a Comptroller and Auditor General report in 2019. The audit found the ETB repeatedly broke public contract rules and indulged in “excessive” spending on five-star hotels.
Its then chief executive, Seán Ashe, also failed to declare ties to family members with interests in two companies that received contracts from the ETB, the audit found. The report was referred to the GNECB which commenced an investigation.
Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy in 2019 told a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee that concerns about Kildare and Wicklow ETB arose during a routine audit of the body's 2015 financial accounts.
The concerns led the State auditor to prepare a supplementary report into the financial issues, a move that would be “very unusual”, he told the committee.
When concerning financial practices were brought to the chair and vice-chair of the ETB’s board, Mr McCarthy said they were both “surprised and shocked” to learn the information.