Tuesday 24 April 2018

Former financial adviser who carried out a €109,000 life insurance scam to be sentenced

Clare Dooley of Moneybloom.
Clare Dooley of Moneybloom.

By Conor Gallagher

A former financial adviser who carried out a €109,000 life insurance scam will be sentenced next week.

Clare Dooley (43), who later founded Moneybloom which helped restructure loans for those in mortgage distress, committed the offences following a failed business venture in 2011.

Ms Dooley appeared on Newstalk as a contributor on three occasions.

Dooley was due to be sentenced today at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court by Judge Desmond Hogan but the prosecution told the court “certain matters” needed to be clarified by the State and that it would be to everyone's benefit to adjourn sentencing for a short period.

Judge Hogan asked if the DPP was asking for a adjournment because further charges were being brought against Dooley. Maddie Grant BL, for the DPP, said that “at the moment this is not the case” and that she was constrained from saying more at this point.

The judge agreed to the adjournment but said that he will impose sentence next week in the absence of a solid reason to do otherwise from the DPP.

Dooley of Hillcrest, Julianstown, Co Meath pleaded guilty to ten counts of making and using false declaration forms at New Ireland Assurance plc, Dawson Street, Dublin and in the State between November 23, 2010 and September 27, 2011. She has no previous convictions.

Garda Niamh Seberry told Ms Grant that a complaint was made to gardaí in February 2013 by New Ireland Assurance regarding 38 fictitious life insurance policies that had been taken out by Dooley using false information.

Dooley had a financial services company and was working as an intermediary between clients and the insurance company. She sent in the application forms and received commission on the policies.

The company began an investigation in 2011 after noticing a huge rise in the commission paid to Dooley in a short period of time. Dooley had been paid €109,000 in commission from the 38 fake policies.

Dooley was arrested and interviewed after garda searches at her home and business unearthed relevant documentation. The people who were named in the polices were unaware they had been taken out and were not at a loss.

Between 2011 and 2014 Dooley made three appearances on Newstalk's Global Village show. She advised callers on debt and other financial issues.

Defence counsel, Lorcan Staines BL, submitted that the motive had not been permanent theft of the money and that she would ultimately not have profited from the offences.

He outlined that the amount of commission paid to brokers like Dooley upfront was equal to two years monthly premium payments on the policy. If the policy was cancelled within two years there was a claw back of the commission payment from the broker.

Mr Staines said she set up the false policies and was paying the premiums to keep them live. He said although she had been paid the commission upfront, she would have had to keep paying the monthly premiums until they equalled the payment to avoid the claw back policy.

He said that Dooley had come to Dublin from Scotland in the 1990's where she did office work before moving into the financial industry. He said she had never been out of work since the age of 14.

He said she and her husband were in severe financial difficulties in 2011 following a failed business venture.

When heavily pregnant with her second child Dooley found herself the sole breadwinner after her husband fell into a depression. They were not entitled to social welfare as both were self employed.

Mr Staines handed in a psychological report and number of testimonials. The report outlined Dooley felt severe guilt and remorse for what she had done and that “pride” had prevented her asking for help.

He said the adverse publicity would make it difficult for her to find work in the financial sector.

Mr Staines said following previous reporting of the case there had been “pretty heavy comments” made by members of the public which wrongly inferred she had been stealing from those she had been seeking to help from which was not the case.

He asked the court to take into account her guilty pleas, the total destruction of her standing in the community and the effect on her family. He submitted that she had no previous convictions and evidence of overall good character.

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