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Four executives at collapsed company are charged with misleading investors

Alleged fraud was between 2008 and 2011

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Appeared in court: John Mulholland (pictured), John Whyte, Ciara Kelleher and Paul Lavery are all charged with offences alleged to have taken place at Irish investment firm Custom House Capital.
Photo: Collins Courts

Appeared in court: John Mulholland (pictured), John Whyte, Ciara Kelleher and Paul Lavery are all charged with offences alleged to have taken place at Irish investment firm Custom House Capital. Photo: Collins Courts

Appeared in court: John Mulholland (pictured), John Whyte, Ciara Kelleher and Paul Lavery are all charged with offences alleged to have taken place at Irish investment firm Custom House Capital. Photo: Collins Courts

Four investment firm executives are facing trial accused of misleading clients, after they were charged by gardaí investigating an alleged multi-million euro fraud at the company.

John Mulholland (69), John Whyte (50), Paul Lavery (43) and Ciara Kelleher (48) are all charged with offences alleged to have taken place at Irish investment firm Custom House Capital, which collapsed in 2011.

The four were granted bail at Dublin District Court, and their cases were adjourned for the preparation of books of evidence.

Mr Mulholland, of Salthill, Monkstown, Co Dublin; Mr Whyte, from Beech Park, Lucan, Dublin; Mr Lavery, of Rafeenan, Bellanode, Co Monaghan; and Ms Kelleher, of Martin Close, Blackhorse Avenue, Dublin 7, will appear in court again in July.

They are each charged with one count of misleading investors as to where and/or how their assets were placed in Custom House Capital.

The offences, contrary to Common Law, are alleged to have happened within the State on dates between October 2008 and July 2011.

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John Whyte. Photo: Collins Courts

John Whyte. Photo: Collins Courts

John Whyte. Photo: Collins Courts

Detectives from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau gave evidence of arresting, charging and cautioning the four accused by appointment at Kevin Street station yesterday morning.

Detective Garda David Coyne said Mr Mulholland made no reply to the charge, Det Sergeant Alan Govern said Mr Whyte also made no reply, and Det Gda Aidan Devenney said Mr Lavery made no comment, while Ms Kelleher said "I am innocent" when charged.

None of the gardaí had any objections to bail subject to conditions.

Judge Bryan Smyth granted bail in each accused's own bond, with no cash lodgments required. Mr Mulholland's bond was set at €1,000, while the other three were €500 each.

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Paul Lavery. Photo: Collins Courts

Paul Lavery. Photo: Collins Courts

Paul Lavery. Photo: Collins Courts

Conditions are that they live at their home addresses, provide gardaí with mobile phone numbers, sign on weekly at their local Garda stations, surrender their passports and not apply for any duplicates or other travel documents.

They are also to have no contact, directly or indirectly, with each other or any witnesses.

Det Gda Coyne said he was seeking an independent surety in Mr Mulholland's case, as he had an address in Co Antrim, where he had previously resided.

Approving Mr Mulholland's daughter Zara as a surety, Judge Smyth ordered that her bank account is frozen in the sum of €10,000.

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Ciara Kelleher. Photo: Collins Courts

Ciara Kelleher. Photo: Collins Courts

Ciara Kelleher. Photo: Collins Courts

She confirmed she was aware of the charge against her father, that she was not standing surety for anyone else, and that she understood she would lose that money if he did not turn up for his trial.

The court heard the DPP was directing trial on indictment at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on all charges, and was also consenting to the accused being sent forward on signed pleas of guilty if that should arise.

Adjournments were sought.

Solicitors Richard Young, for Mr Mulholland, Padraig O'Donovan, for Mr Whyte, Peter Connolly, for Mr Lavery, and Michael Hennessy, for Ms Kelleher, all consented to their clients being remanded on bail, to appear in court again on July 31.

Judge Smyth extended the time required for the preparation of the books of evidence, which are required before the accused can be sent for trial.

Mr O'Donovan said Mr Whyte was making an application for legal aid and he handed in a vouched statement of his client's financial means.

Granting it, Judge Smyth noted there was no Garda objection.

Mr Hennessy deferred her legal aid application in Ms Kelleher's case and said he would furnish documentation on the next date.

None of the accused was required to address the court during the hearing and no further details of the alleged offences were disclosed in court.

Each case was called in turn and dealt with separately.

All four accused wore face masks as they sat in the defendants' area of the courtroom and listened to the proceedings.

They were each released on bail after signing their bonds.

CHC collapsed in October 2011 after High Court inspectors uncovered the "systematic and deliberate misuse" of assets and cash belonging to clients of the firm.

Irish Independent