Most of money allegedly stolen in €1.2m fraud transferred out of State, gardaí believe

File to be sent to DPP following accountancy firm complaint about employee overclaiming expenses

The suspect was released without charge on Tuesday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

The suspect was released without charge on Tuesday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Gardaí believe most of the near €1.2 million allegedly stolen by an employee of a major Irish accountancy and auditing firm was transferred out of the Republic. It has not been recovered to date.

While sums of money have been frozen in at least three bank accounts, both in the Republic and abroad, the total amount still in those accounts when they were frozen was only a small fraction, at less than €50,000, of the sum that is alleged to have been stolen.

The financial services company made a formal statement of complaint with gardaí after the allegations came to light late last year that an employee had been significantly overclaiming expenses.

The Irish Times understands the suspect is under investigation for allegedly overclaiming expenses over a period of at least two years. His alleged activities went unnoticed for long enough for the sum in dispute to grow so significantly.

The suspect was arrested by arrangement on Monday and has known for a number of months he was under investigation. He was released without charge on Tuesday. An Garda Síochána said in a statement a file would be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Complaint

When the allegations came to light late last year the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) began an investigation on foot of a complaint from the accountancy firm.

In January, the Garda team carried out a significant phase of its investigation, though details did not come to light at the time.

The man’s home in Leinster was searched in January and his laptop and phone were taken for analysis by Garda technical experts.

Forensic accountants were also analysing financial records unearthed during the investigation The suspect, who is aged in his 30s, has also surrendered his passport since his first interaction with investigating gardaí.

Documents obtained from a solicitors’ firm have also been seized during a search. Those documents were being analysed to determine the origins of money used by the suspect to buy a house in Ireland as part of the investigation.

Aside from the house purchase, gardaí are investigating if the money alleged to have been stolen was transferred out of the Republic and to another country where the suspect has strong links.

One of the bank accounts already identified and frozen as part of the investigation, led by Det Supt Michael Cryan, is in that other jurisdiction. However, only a very small sum of money was in the foreign account when it was frozen by gardaí. Some of the information that helped bring about the investigation was supplied by an Irish financial institution the suspect banks with.

Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin, on Monday said a suspect in his 30s had been arrested by detectives from the GNECB “following allegations of theft at an accountancy firm”.

“The arrest was made as part of an investigation following a complaint made by the accountancy firm relating to false claims for expenses by an employee, in excess of €1,000,000,” the Garda statement said.

“A number of searches were conducted by GNECB since January following receipt of the complaint. A substantial amount of money was frozen in two bank accounts in Ireland and a separate jurisdiction respectively, as part of this investigation.”