Business Irish

Thursday 22 August 2019

Conlon claims he was forced to confess to €3.8m fraud


Businessman Peter Conlon. Photo: Fergal Phillips/Sunday Times
Businessman Peter Conlon. Photo: Fergal Phillips/Sunday Times
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Businessman Peter Conlon dramatically claimed his conviction for embezzling €3.8m from charities including Red Cross and Trócaire was the result of a forced confession.

The Co Leitrim native claimed he confessed only after being held in 23-hour lock-up for nearly a year.

As a result of claimed "prosecutorial misconduct" by the Swiss, he says a report is being prepared for submission to the Irish Government and the European Commissioner for Human Rights.

Yesterday's court hearing was part of the process to liquidate and recover assets from Conlon's company, Pembroke Dynamic Internet Services.

In November last year, Conlon pleaded guilty in Zurich to the misappropriation of €3.8m by his company Ammado, which had a system to allow people to donate to charities.

Conlon was sentenced to three years in prison, with two conditionally deferred.

He was jailed for four years, with three suspended and, as he had already spent a year in prison before the trial, he was released on December 22.

Conlon said in an affidavit emailed to court that had been advised to undertake counselling for PTSD "as soon as possible". He added: "I am currently in receipt of no income at present."

Conlon is practising "transformative meditation", Kriya yoga and doing 25,000 steps a day, the High Court heard.

Up to 800 charities were left out of pocket following the collapse of Ammado. After the High Court appointed liquidator Myles Kirby to related company Pembroke Dynamic Internet Services, he uncovered evidence of alleged misappropriation of up to €3.8m.

Last year, the High Court granted Mr Kirby an injunction to freeze Conlon's assets below the €3.8m value. This order remains in place. Mr Kirby has repeatedly been in the High Court seeking to get Conlon to co-operate.

Gerard Meehan BL, for Mr Kirby, said his client did not accept Conlon's request for a further adjournment.

Mr Meehan argued if he was well enough to make a case to the EU Commissioner about human rights, he could swear a more substantial affidavit.

The liquidator was now prepared to set up a "drop box" where Conlon could pick up court papers, counsel said.

Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds said if that was done, he could have no further complaint about not receiving papers. She adjourned for nine weeks.

Irish Independent

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