Saturday 19 August 2017

Garda 'at risk of retaliation' for sparking probe

Giovanni Kessler. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Giovanni Kessler. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

A garda has told EU investigators that he personally viewed documents which point to suspected fraud and potential criminal misconduct involving bank accounts at Templemore College.

The serving officer has claimed the files - which date back to 2010 - indicate that EU monies were "misdirected".

In correspondence seen by the Irish Independent, the Garda states that as a result of the information he has seen, he believes it is "completely inappropriate" for the Templemore 'slush fund' to be investigated by Garda management itself.

He also claims he now fears he is at "serious risk of retaliation" as a result of his decision to alert the EU authorities.

The allegations were made in emails sent in recent days to the EU Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf), as well as to the European Court of Auditors.

Both authorities have indicated they are prepared to launch formal probes or audits into Templemore.

It is highly unusual for any rank-and-file garda to make allegations to EU authorities about suspected wrongdoing within the force.

It's understood the decision was taken by the officer after he consulted colleagues.

In the correspondence to Olaf and the court of auditors, the man identifies himself as a serving officer.

"I am making contact with you to inform you directly that I believe monetary grants originating from Cepol (the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training) and afforded to An Garda Síochána have been utilised fraudulently within An Garda Síochána or for purposes other than intended by Cepol or the European Union, who provides such money," the officer states in a letter to Olaf boss Giovanni Kessler.

"The allegations I have made to you are of a very serious nature and in making them I have put myself in a very precarious position and at serious risk of retaliation by those of whom I allege potential criminal conduct. I should inform you that I have also made these allegations known to the European Court of Auditors, who have acknowledged my complaint and state that they have forwarded my submission to their audit department responsible for the area in question for further analysis."

Citing documents he says he has seen dating from 2010, the officer says EU funds were "misdirected" to a number of accounts.

"In this documentation there is reference to Oisin/Falcone/Cepol-EU Bank Account. It is stated that these accounts need to be reconciled and monies sent to the laundry account should now be paid into the College Imprest Account which is a clear indication that this EU training funds allocated by Cepol had in fact been misdirected to the Training College's laundry account or other accounts."

In response to the officer, Olaf said a "selection case has been opened and the information is currently being evaluated with a view to establishing whether an investigation should be opened."

Similarly, the Court of Auditors responded positively to his correspondence, which a number of members of the PAC are aware of.

It said: "The information you have provided indicates the possibility of irregularities in EU spending, or poor financial management.

"We have accordingly forwarded your submission to our audit department responsible for this area."

Irish Independent

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