Watchdog sends Callely report to the DPP
FORMER Fianna Fail senator Ivor Callely could face a garda investigation into his use of allegedly fake invoices to make mobile phone expense claims.
It emerged last year that he had claimed almost €3,000 in mobile phone expenses from the Oireachtas Commission using invoices from a company that went bust in 1994.
The State's ethics watchdog said yesterday it had formed the opinion that Mr Callely may have committed an offence relating to the performance of his functions as a member.
The Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) has now provided a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The DPP cannot decide to commence a prosecution on foot of the report supplied, but can request a garda investigation into the matter.
Mr Callely resigned his position as a member of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party when reports about his mobile phone expenses emerged last August.
However, Mr Callely has escaped the prospect of having to appear before a public inquiry conducted by the Standards in Public Office Commission. He ceased to be a member of the Seanad this week.
"Accordingly, the Standards commission no longer has jurisdiction in the matter and its investigation has been discontinued," a SIPO spokesman said.
It is understood that SIPO "ran out of time" before the Seanad was dissolved.
Mr Callely, appointed to the Seanad by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 2007, did not compete in the current Seanad election.
He could not be contacted for comment yesterday.
In a statement at the time, Mr Callely accepted the November 2007 mobile phone expense claims should not have been made but said he did not know how the receipts were issued by a company that had ceased trading.
The Seanad members' interests committee decided to refer a complaint about Mr Callely's mobile phone expense claims to SIPO. SIPO began its preliminary investigation and a report was supplied to its executive on April 11 last.
Mr Callely was the subject of a separate travel expenses investigation by the Seanad members' interests committee last year. But he successfully challenged the decision of the committee to suspend him from the Seanad for 20 days.
He was awarded €17,000 in compensation for loss of earnings by the High Court.