ACC is ordered to keep files in forgery claim probe
ACC Bank has been ordered by the High Court to keep all documents relating to a case alleging forgery of documents by the bank intact until it has been contacted by gardai.
The order was made yesterday by Mr Justice Peter Kelly to the bank's legal representatives in a case involving a loan of €3.2m made by the institution to two couples for a site in Galway in 2006.
The judge has already asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate documents issued by the lender including a "fictitious" P60 in the bank's files certifying a much higher rate of pay for a retired garda, one of four people to whom the loan was made.
While the bank secured judgment for the amount of the loan in an earlier hearing, the judge said yesterday that because the case was "unusual" he was awarding one-third of legal costs incurred by the bank to the defendants and also agreed to a stay on execution of the judgment against them for six months.
Judge Kelly was also critical of ACC's "conduct" in relation to the case.
He said it was "disquieting" that it only emerged on the morning of the first hearing last week that the bank had employed a handwriting expert who concluded that signatures on a loan document were not those of defendants, a retired garda George McGrath and his wife Catherine, of Loughrea, Galway, and George and Evelyn Fahey of Gort.
Earlier the judge said questions had arisen over a P60 for Mr McGrath for the year ended December 31, 2005. A P60 for the defendant correctly showed total pay of €24,951 for that year, a period when he worked part-time as a garda.
However, data provided by ACC to Mr McGrath under the Data Protection Act showed the bank held a purported P60 for the same year falsely certifying his earnings at €89,952. Mr McGrath had sworn he had no part in creating or procuring the document.
Two officials have left the bank after the lender's internal audit team probed allegations of forgeries.
The retired garda has extensive property interests and he and Mr Fahey were assessed by ACC in January 2008 as having a net worth of some €25.86m. ACC had argued that its decision to loan money to Mr McGrath was based on his net worth, not his earnings as a garda.