Saturday 19 August 2017

Sophisticated multi-million euro fraud ring 'behind damages claims arising from staged accidents' - court hears

Claims usually involved alleged offending drivers who had only shortly beforehand taken out insurance on elderly cars after having given false details and identities

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Ray Managh

Zurich Insurance and the MIBI believe they have uncovered an organised and sophisticated multi-million-euro Eastern European fraud ring behind fraudulent damages claims arising from staged accidents, a judge was told today Tuesday.

The claim was made in the Circuit Civil Court in a sworn statement by David Culleton, of Dublin solicitors DAC Beachcroft, on behalf of Zurich and the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland which compensates victims of untraced and uninsured drivers.

Evidence of a major insurance probe into "suspicious multiple claims" was laid before Judge Jacqueline Linnane when she was asked to refer papers in a €60,000 personal injury claim by Belgard Motors Ltd director Ivo Janmers to the DPP.

Barrister Paul McMorrow, counsel for Zurich and the Bureau, told the court his clients were also seeking their legal costs against Janmers who, despite court orders, had failed to turn up for medical examinations and produce his medical records and had not proceeded with his case.

Judge Linnane said she was aware from Mr Culleton’s affidavit of a considerable and thorough investigation by the insurers into a number of cases, including Janmers’, leading them to the conclusion that last minute insurance had been taken out just prior to a litany of accidents they believed to have been staged.

Mr Culleton told the court that Janmers’s claim was one of six highly suspicious and strikingly similar type of accidents each tainted by some element of fraud, collusion or conspiracy.

"As a result of their investigations Zurich and the Bureau believe they have been deliberately targeted as part of an organised and sophisticated Eastern European fraud ring which has generated an exposure to a potential 25 personal injuries claims," Mr Culleton stated.

Such claims, if confined to the Circuit Court, could cost the insurers a potential of €2million in compensation and legal costs and expenses involving forensic engineers and in many cases private detectives.  High Court cases could amount to many multiples of millions.

Mr Culleton told the court that since commencing his proceedings in July 2015 for damages for a badly injured back the 34-year-old Janmers, a well-established crashed car repair and garage business owner, had continued to lead a flamboyant, active and sporting lifestyle including exposure on social media.

He said Janmers’s business interests included directorship of Belgard Motors Limited with an address at Old Belgard Road, Tallalght, Dublin,

He said Janmers was connected with at least four of the six accidents which Zurich and the Bureau had committed to the closest scrutiny.

Mr McMorrow said the accidents with which the court was most recently concerned involved their being staged in the country at remote areas in the dark at the dead of night away from any possibility of discovery.

He said that in January last Janmers had been ordered by the court to turn up at pre-arranged medical examinations, pay for medical costs of examinations he had already failed to attend, and provide his full medical records to the defendants.

"In contempt of those orders he has failed to comply with a single one of them and we are seeking our costs in the matter and applying for the court to refer the papers to the DPP," Mr McMorrow said.

The court heard of four claims relating to a crash in Portlaoise, Co Laois; nine from two crashes at Balrothery, Co Dublin; five from one in Clara, Co Offaly, and seven other claims from two accidents at Swords, Co Dublin.  The accidents occurred between December 2012 and December 2013.

Mr Culleton said the "accidents" usually involved alleged offending drivers who had only shortly beforehand taken out insurance with Zurich on elderly cars after having given false details and identities.  After dutifully having reported the accidents to Zurich they and their cars would conveniently become untraceable.

A solicitor for Janmers said he had no instructions from him since January last and would be bringing a motion to come off record for him.  He believed Janmers may be out of the country and he had no indication if he was still a director of the company referred to.

Judge Linnane said it appeared the insurance policies would be paid for in an untraceable manner such as cash. Numerous personal injuries cases would follow and it was the insurers’ investigations that had led them to believe they were staged.

"There must be a reason why Mr Janmers is not pursuing his case and the answer might well be in the very comprehensive affidavit sworn by Mr Culleton and which sets out the picture of what is happening here in relation to various claims," the judge said.

Judge Linnane said she appreciated there had been considerable time, effort and money applied to the investigation undertaken by the insurers concluding there was a group staging accidents and making multiple personal injury cases.  She said she had made final orders dismissing Mr Janmers’s claim, with costs, in April last for failure to comply with earlier orders.

The judge said she could not now reopen the case to further award costs or direct papers be sent to the DPP but there was now a committee in being to investigate insurance matters and she saw no reason why the outcome of these inquiries might not be forwarded to that committee and thence to the DPP for consideration of criminal prosecution.

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