Businessman under investigation for alleged company fraud
An Irish lawyer and businessman is being investigated by the authorities north and south of the Border, following claims that he defrauded a company in Northern Ireland.
The solicitor, who previously had a substantial judgment registered against him by the Collector General, has been reported to the Garda fraud bureau and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which has already interviewed witnesses about the alleged theft of company monies.
The company has told the PSNI that the anticipated losses and damages arising from the alleged fraud, including misappropriation of investors' pensions and savings, amount to "millions of pounds".
The Law Society, the ruling body for solicitors in the Republic, has also been informed of the criminal complaint, which alleges that the solicitor committed more than 150 separate criminal offences, including theft, forgery and deception.
The Sunday Independent has learned that the solicitor was engaged by the firm in Northern Ireland after he had indicated that he had the capacity to raise more than €200m in capital to facilitate the company's expansion.
However, the PSNI was notified after a trawl of documents which the company says shows that the solicitor had used a company credit card to boost his personal savings' accounts by almost €20,000.
The company says its funds were used to fly his wife abroad for weekend breaks and claims that company money was also used for shopping in camping, equestrian and DIY stores.
International backers of the company have been notified of the alleged fraud.
It is understood that the solicitor claims that he is a shareholder, not an employee, of the company and maintains that he was entitled to draw down sums in the form of a director's loan.
Several instances of fraudulent behaviour by solicitors have come to light in recent years.
The Law Society Compensation Fund, which is funded by annual contributions from practising solicitors, has paid out in some cases.
The fund is available to clients left out of pocket by their solicitor. It is only available if they were acting as a solicitor for the client, rather than some other function, such as raising money for the client.
Net claims paid out between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2015 totalled €27.5m.
A total of 71 solicitors have been struck off the roll of solicitors by the High Court since 2007, the Law Society said.
The most notorious cases of fraud by solicitors include high-profile Dublin lawyer Thomas Byrne, who was sentenced to 16 years in jail, with four suspended, for a €52m fraud.
Sunday Indo Business