Senior figure in Dublin accountancy firm suspected of €1m-plus fraud

Senior employee at Dublin company alleged to have claimed fake expenses over two years

 It is believed the suspect’s senior position, combined with disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, allowed the suspected fraud.  Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA

It is believed the suspect’s senior position, combined with disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, allowed the suspected fraud. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

 

A senior employee of a large Dublin accountancy firm managed to claim more than €1 million in fraudulent expenses over a two-year period, gardaí suspect.

The employee, a man in his 30s who was arrested on Monday, was allegedly claiming for expenses for both personal matters and for non-existent work done on behalf of the company, which is understood to be one of the major accountancy firms in the Irish market.

Officers from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) were shocked at the amount of money involved in the alleged fraud. It is believed the suspect’s senior position within the company, combined with disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, allowed the suspected fraud until the end of 2020 to avoid detection.

Overcharging claims

Garda sources said the alleged fraud is believed to be a “one-man operation” and that neither the firm itself nor other employees are suspected of involvement.

The alleged fraud was first noticed by the company over the Christmas period and gardaí were alerted in early January 2021. They believed the accused had started overcharging the company sometime in late 2018 or early 2019.

“His position in the company was such that he was allowed claim expenses for work he was doing for the company as well as for his own expenses,” a source said.

Accounts frozen

“He was overclaiming his own expenses and doubling up on everything. Just running up a huge bill. It’s an astronomical amount to run up over such a short period of time.

“The company seemed to do everything right. Once they became aware of it, they reported it immediately.”

Gardaí believe the man was stashing the money in two bank accounts, one based in Ireland and one based abroad. Large sums of money in both accounts have since been frozen, the Garda said in a statement.

The GNECB began investigating the matter in January and have carried out a number of searches. They arrested the employee just after midday on Monday.

He is currently being held in Terenure Garda station where he can be questioned for up to 24 hours before release or charge.