Friday 19 January 2018

Bank boss jailed for stealing €3m from employers

Conor Gallagher

A BANK of Ireland manager who stole more than €3m from his employers in a "ponzi scheme" has been jailed for four-and-a-half years at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

William Freeland (57) was employed as a business manager in the Bray branch when he began setting up lending accounts in fake names and taking money from them.

He would then open up more accounts to get money to repay the loans taken from previous ones.

He stole a total of €3.38m, of which he repaid €2.53m using money he took from later accounts. The scam went on for five years before Freeland was caught and dismissed.

Nearly €850,000 remains outstanding -- including €320,000 in interest and charges. Freeland claimed he spent €209,000, or 6pc of the total amount, on himself.

He went on several family holidays and golf trips and bought a car.

He told gardai the money went on "bits and pieces" and that he "just couldn't say no to himself". The court heard he wasn't a gambler and he had no significant assets to show for his theft.

Dismissal

When he was fired and arrested he told investigators he was glad he was caught. For six months after his dismissal he did not tell his wife and children about it and sat in his car all day while they thought he was at work.

Judge Martin Nolan noted he had operated a sort of "ponzi scheme" and that once Freeland had started he couldn't stop.

The judge said that he was a good man and an asset to his community where he was heavily involved in his local soccer club.

He also noted his remorse and co-operation with the investigation which avoided the need for a complex and lengthy trial. However, he said because the crime was "great" and carried out with "malice aforethought", a jail sentence must be imposed.

Judge Nolan rejected an offer by the defence to use money inherited by Freeland's wife to partially compensate the bank. The judge said he didn't think it was appropriate to take his wife's money and give it to the bank.

Freeland, of Ardmore Lawn, Bray, Co Wicklow, pleaded guilty to 10 sample counts of theft and false accounting between September 2004 and April 2009 at the Bray and Kill o'the Grange Bank of Ireland branches.

Irish Independent

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