Man jailed for part in scheme to defraud Revenue of over £3.8m

 

A Co Meath man described as the "front man" of an elaborate scheme to defraud the Revenue Commissioners of over £3.8 million was imprisoned for four years after pleading guilty to the offence at Ennis Circuit Court yesterday.

Brendan O'Doherty (47), of Ballycarron, Enfield, Co Meath, pleaded guilty to the charges of endeavouring to defraud the Revenue Commissioners of £3,823,717 by making a false VAT return in the name of Unirock Enterprises Ltd in Ennis on June 18th last.

Det Garda Denis O'Leary, of the Criminal Assets Bureau, told the court that O'Doherty had been the "front man" in an operation that had involved a number of others.

Det Garda O'Leary described how, to avoid questions being asked over the false VAT return, a number of other forged documents purporting to be from the chairman of the Revenue Commissioners and the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General were also forwarded to Sarsfield House in Limerick seeking the VAT repayment.

These forged documents, he told the court, stated that Unirock Enterprises Ltd was a company owned by the Criminal Assets Bureau and had Garda nominees as the directors of the company.

A cheque for the amount was issued by the Revenue Commissioners and was to be collected by O'Doherty at the Accountant General's Office in Ennis on June 18th.

However, Det Garda O'Leary told the court that the cheque was stopped following a "double check" a short time before O'Doherty was due to collect it. O'Doherty was approached and arrested by gardai as he presented himself for collection on June 18th.

In the overall operation, Det Garda O'Leary said, Mr O'Doherty was involved in the setting up of bank accounts inside and outside the State and was present at meetings when the documents were forged, although Det Garda O'Leary accepted that O'Doherty was not the main player in the scheme.

Acting on behalf of O'Doherty, Mr Collins BL told the court that the accused man "was not the main mover" in the scheme and stood to gain only £20,000 if the fraud was successful.

Saying he saw no reason why O'Doherty should not serve the maximum 14-year jail term for the offence, Judge Sean O'Leary said he would take into account that O'Doherty had pleaded guilty to the offence and had no previous convictions.

Judge O'Leary sentenced O'Doherty to seven years, suspending the sentence after the fourth year.