Tuesday 10 December 2019

Father-of-two transferred €102k from Google into foreign bank accounts

Google (stock photo)
Google (stock photo)

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A father-of-two who transferred over €102,800 of Google’s money to bank accounts in France and South Africa has received a three year sentence.

Aman Essoin (43) claimed he transferred the funds because he was under pressure from a man known as “Serge”. He said Serge had personal information on him and his family and he felt threatened.

He told gardai he didn’t profit from moving any of the money, which was taken from the bank accounts into which it was lodged.

Essoin, with an address at Marine Road, Greystones, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to computer fraud at Arvanto Finance Services (AFS) Ltd, Gilde House, Eastpoint Business Park on October 24, 2011 and January 30, 2012.

He also pleaded guilty to three counts of stealing money from Google Ltd by fraudulently transferring it to banks in Johannesburg, South Africa and Paris, France on dates between 24 October 2011 and March 27, 2012.  He has no previous convictions.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring suspended the last 18 months of the three year sentence after backdating it to December last year.

Defence counsel Dominic McGinn SC submitted that his client, who had worked at AFS for six years, had “not been in his right mind” at the time of offending as his marriage was failing.

Mr McGinn submitted to Judge Ring that although Essoin had received no explicit threats from Serge, this man had “an enormous amount of background information” on his client.

Judge Ring had adjourned the case having heard evidence last September, while Essoin has been on remand in custody since his arrest last December.

She accepted that he has been “an exemplary prisoner” and that a report from the Probation Service but him at a low risk of re-offending.

The judge said it was “a significant breach of trust” and nothing in his background would have alerted his employer to any possible concerns about his trustworthiness.

She accepted that he didn’t seem to financially benefit from the role but added that somebody had gained from it and his employers lost a serious amount of money.

Detective Garda Sean O’Riordan said at the sentence hearing that Essoin had been employed in the collections and refunds department of AFS, which dealt with all Google’s finance matters.

The detective told prosecution counsel Fiona McGowan BL that Essoin exploited a loop hole in the system to make false refunds to purported Google client companies.

Essoin was fired in August 2012 when AFS did an internal audit and uncovered the fraud. Gardai arrested him in December 2013 following a forensic investigation. He denied any wrong doing.

Det Gda O’Riordan agreed with Mr McGinn that his client studied as an accountant and had been living in Ireland for ten years.

He further agreed Essoin hasn’t seen his children, one of whom has leukaemia, since his remand in custody on the matter.

Mr McGinn asked Judge Ring to take into account his client’s early guilty plea and good work history. He submitted that Essoin has already been punished as his offending has damaged his future career prospects.

Judge Ring noted that Essoin “appears to be homeless” since his family home is currently being repossessed and his relationship with his ex-wife is acrimonious.

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