Man who got £250,000 in error says money is now his

 

The man who got a £250,000 windfall when he emigrated to Spain last month, due to a banking error has said the money is now his.

Mr David Hickey, from Tallaght in Dublin, said yesterday that his plan was "to hold on to the rest of it".

"I've taken a bite of the cherry," he said, speaking from Spain last night.

Asked how much he had bitten off, he said "enough to have a good chew".

"I haven't taken a huge, massive bite. If Bank of Ireland was able to get what's left of it back I'd say they'd be pretty happy - put it that way".

Mr Hickey came into the money unexpectedly last month following a visit to the Inchicore branch of Bank of Ireland. He asked for £1,500 worth of Spanish pesetas to be transferred to his account in Spain. The bank changed the money to its equivalent in the Spanish currency - over 300,000 pesetas. However, in error the Bank transferred some 300,000 euros to his Spanish account, the equivalent of just over £248,000.

Asked about his reaction when he found the money in his account, Mr Hickey laughed.

"It was like getting up on Christmas and getting that bike you always dreamed of.

"I had to make the moral decision about what I was going to do with the money and I didn't do anything straight off.

"But I looked at the original transfer form and it had a disclaimer on it saying that Bank of Ireland took no responsibility for any mistakes made during the transfer. And the Bank made a big mistake. So I thought; 'Fine, this money is effectively mine'. "

When the bank realised the error it contacted the Garda. A senior member of the bank's staff also travelled to Spain in an effort to secure the money's return.

"They went to my house with police to find out where I was and started to harass my family."

He said the local Spanish police were also "looking for" him, so he went to the police himself "to find out what I had done wrong".

He was arrested and charged with "misuse of other people's property", he said.

According to garda∅ in Dublin, however, Mr Hickey has committed no crime. The bank needs Mr Hickey's written consent to take the money back.

He said he had given a statement to the police in Spain explaining why he did not give the money back.

"Temptation, I'm only human," he explained.

Adamant that he has done nothing wrong, Mr Hickey said he "could have run to South America".

"But I've stayed around. The bank knows where I am, and I am prepared to go down the legal route to hold onto the rest of the money if it comes to it."