A FORMER college dean has been fined €3,000 for using his work credit card to pay for flights for himself, his wife and his lover over period of several months.
After the thefts came to light, Ali Shimaz (36), originally from the Maldives, resigned from his post at American College in Dublin where he was responsible for recruitment of foreign students.
Shimaz pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 11 counts of theft of money totalling €5,622 from American College on dates between June and September 2009.
Shimaz with an address at The Elysian Apartments, Port Lane, Cork City, but currently residing in Dublin where he now works in student recruitment at another college, has no previous convictions and has since repaid the money to American College.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring remanded Shimaz in custody for an hour and a half today while she considered her sentence.
Judge Ring noted the thefts were not sophisticated and there was a clear paper trail of emails and credit card statements showing what Shimaz was up to. She said this type of offending was a serious matter for employers particularly in the present economic times.
She said his current employers were to be credited for taking a chance with him and noted it was a shame more employers did not do so as such chances were important for rehabilitation.
Judge Ring said she did not think society would be best served by imprisoning him and imposed a €3,000 fine to repay the State some of the expense incurred during the investigation.
Garda Christopher Fitzgerald told Rosin Lacey BL, prosecuting, that he received a call from the director of finance at the college in October 2009 regarding suspected theft by Shimaz.
Shimaz had originally been a student at the college and subsequently became an employee rising to the position of Dean with responsibility for attracting foreign students to the college.
As part of his role he engaged in worldwide travel to conferences and fairs and had been issued with a college credit card exclusively for work use.
Suspicions were aroused in October 2009 when Shimaz failed to submit receipts when requested to do so. An investigation into his email accounts showed confirmation emails for airline reservations not connected with college business.
The trips were for himself and his wife and also included trips to Amsterdam and Geneva for a woman with whom he had embarked on an affair at the time. He is now in a permanent relationship with this woman and they have a child.
In October 2009 Shimaz met the vice-president of the college and another Dean and agreed to resign as well as repay the money he had taken. However, the money was not paid over until last month when he pleaded guilty to these offences.
Shimaz was arrested and interviewed after a garda investigation.
Gda Fitzgerald agreed with James McCullough BL, defending, that Shimaz was not a serial fraudster and this was not an organised scheme of credit card fraud.
Gda Fitzgerald said Shimaz had taken advantage of his situation and trusted position in the college but had not come to any garda attention since.
He agreed the offences had taken place against the background of an extramarital affair and Shimaz had paid for trips for his wife, her family and the woman he was having an affair with, now his partner.
Gda Fitzgerald agreed Shimaz had enjoyed a close relationship with the president of the college who had been his mentor.
Mr McCullough said Shimaz had been educated to secondary level in the Maldives and then studied from 2000 to 2004 at American College before becoming an employee as an accounts officer.
He then moved into a marketing position which involved extensive world travel to Los Angeles, the far east and Europe. He met his now partner in May 2009 and they commenced a relationship.
Mr McCullough said it took Shimaz a while to accept he was in breach of criminal law but he has now come to that realisation and was aware of the perilous situation he is now in.