Sunday 21 April 2019

Gardaí and Central Bank probing leading insurance brokerage

The firm is one of the largest commercial insurance brokers in the country. Stock image
The firm is one of the largest commercial insurance brokers in the country. Stock image
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Gardaí and the Central Bank are carrying out investigations into financial irregularities at a leading insurance brokerage.

Insurance broker Marsh Ireland has confirmed that significant irregularities have been uncovered at its Dublin office.

The firm is one of the largest commercial insurance brokers in the country. It has offices in Dublin, Sligo and Limerick, and is part of a global company with locations in 500 offices worldwide.

It is understood what are described as financial "irregularities" emerged at Marsh following the raid by the European Commission's Competition Directorate here in the summer of 2017.

It emerged at the time of the raids that some commercial clients of Marsh had been overcharged, with others undercharged.

EU Commission competition enforcers carried out unannounced raids on a number of large brokerages and Insurance Ireland.

Another broker that recruited some staff from Marsh soon after the raids has denied it was being probed.

Marsh admitted in a statement that irregular financial activity was identified at the firm last year.

It is understood it is being probed by gardaí from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau in Dublin, along with Central Bank regulators.

Commercial customers affected have since been refunded for any amounts that were overcharged, it is understood. The firm denied it has lost commercial customers due to what has emerged.

"Late in 2017 we identified irregularities in a limited number of corporate client accounts in Ireland handled by a former employee," Marsh said.

"We reported the matter to the Central Bank of Ireland and the gardaí. We also contacted affected clients to assure them that Marsh would protect their interests fully."

The company stressed: "Marsh conducts its business to the highest ethical and professional standards."

It added: "As our code of conduct makes clear, we do not tolerate behaviour that deviates from those standards."

The news comes as Marsh is planning to merge with JLT Ireland. It will create one of Ireland's largest general insurance brokers with annual commission income of between €35m and €40m, the 'Sunday Times' reported recently.

A Garda spokesman said: "We do not comment on named individuals or organisations." The Central Bank said it had no comment.

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