Wednesday 18 October 2017

Clayton sues his accountants in battle over 'missing' €4.8m

Tim Healy

U2 bass guitarist Adam Clayton is suing his bankers and accountants over the alleged misappropriation of €4.8m by his former personal assistant.

The musician claims his accountants were negligent when they assured him in September 2008 that the missing cash totalled €13,585 when in fact it was close to €4.4m.

He claims Carol Hawkins allegedly admitted misappropriating what she said was about €15,000 in September 2008 because of "great stress" from a marriage break-up.

At that point, he claims his accountants assured him it was €13,585, and he had kept her in his employment -- but also instructed the accountants to ensure she would not have access to his accounts.

On top of the alleged misappropriation of almost €4.4m to September 2008, it is alleged that Ms Hawkins misappropriated a further €415,961 between October 2008 and November 2009 by withdrawing €715.38 every day using a Laser card.

Mr Clayton, of Danesmoate Demesne, Kellystown Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin, is now suing Bank of Ireland Private Banking Ltd (BOIPB) and Gaby Smyth, Jill Percival and Pat Cleary, practising as Gaby Smith & Co, chartered accountants, Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

Mr Clayton is claiming €4.38m from BOIPB for alleged negligence, breach of duty and breach of contract.

He is also claiming €4.8m against the accountants for negligence, breach of contract and negligent mis-statement arising from allegedly failing to detect the alleged extent of the misappropriation.

Mr Clayton claims the Smyth firm had reported to him in September 2008 the total sum misappropriated by Ms Hawkins was €13,585 when in fact the total sum misappropriated between July 2004 and September 2008 "is now known to exceed €4m".

Signatory

When the Smyth firm was appointed, Ms Hawkins, whom he had employed since 1992, was responsible for maintaining records of the Clayton household and was a signatory on his bank accounts with BOIPB, and had authority to sign cheques, make withdrawals and direct transfers of monies between his accounts in that bank (BOIPB).

Mr Clayton claims Ms Hawkins's duties in that regard had been overseen by his previous accountants.

He claims the Smyth firm had advised him to acquire a new accounting software package, Quickbooks, to be operated by Ms Hawkins under their supervision.

Between 2004 and 2008, Ms Hawkins had fraudulently misappropriated more than €4m from his accounts and the defendants failed to prevent this, it is claimed.

He claims the Smyth firm reported to him in September 2008 they had conducted a review and reconciliation of his accounts and statements and advised the total sum misappropriated by Ms Hawkins was €13,585.19.

In fact, the total sum was more than €4m and had he known that, he would not have kept Ms Hawkins in his employment, Mr Clayton claims.

He said he had then instructed the accountants to put in place a new financial management system so Ms Hawkins would not have access to his accounts.

He claims he was told him that had been done and Ms Hawkins was to be replaced by Gaby Smyth as the sole signatory on his accounts.

It is claimed Mr Clayton has suffered substantial losses of €4,815,296.

Mr Clayton is to apply on Monday next to have the proceedings transferred to the High Court's fast-track big business division, the Commercial Court.

Irish Independent

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