Tuesday 26 March 2019

Pictured: ‘Ghost broker’ charged with selling fraudulent insurance policies to customers

Martin Hanudel at Trim Circuit Court in County Meath
Martin Hanudel at Trim Circuit Court in County Meath
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A ‘ghost broker’ who sold fraudulent insurance policies to motorists is a “small part of a much bigger operation”, a court has heard.

Martin Hanudel (26) of Tubberclaire Meadows, Athlumney, Co Meath is facing 12 charges of fraud under section 6 of the Criminal Justice Act in relation to the sale of fraudulent motor insurance policies.

He is the first person to be prosecuted for 'ghost broking' offences in Ireland.

Trim Circuit Court heard how ghost brokers act “as a middleman” to falsify details to bring the price down of genuine policies and then sell them to customers for a fee.

Investigating Garda George Thurlow told the court how Mr Hanudel had been advertising cheap policies in various Facebook groups, describing him as “the face of the operation”.

Mr Hanudel charged each person a fee of €500 and then obtained policies through underwriters after giving false information.

He gave incorrect details regarding no claims bonuses to get cheaper premiums and then sold the policies to foreign nationals from Romania and Slovakia.

Mr Thurlow said the 12 policies were subsequently voided, representing a potential loss of €10,000.

Mr Hanudel - who pleaded guilty to all charges - was on bail for firearms offences when he sold the fraudulent policies.

He was also before the court today over the possession of four stun guns which were delivered to his home in February 2016.

During a search of his home, gardai also found six gas canisters, knuckle dusters and €150 worth of cannabis.

Mr Hanudel pleaded guilty to possessing the stun guns and the court heard how this case was adjourned due to the ongoing investigation into the ghost broking activities.

He was arrested in April 2018 and initially denied selling the fraudulent policies, but later presented himself and admitted to being involved.

Breffni Gordon BL, for the defendant, said it was fair to say, based on Garda Thurlow's evidence, that Mr Hanudel was a "small cog in a big wheel" and was "operating for a bigger man" within an organisation.

He used his real name and phone number when advertising the policies in online groups targeting the Slovakian and Romanian communities.

Garda Thurlow said Mr Hanudel "manipulated his knowledge of the insurance industry" in a bid to make financial gain.

The court heard how he has two previous convictions - including one for having no insurance, which he was fined €750 for.

The case was adjourned until March 19 for sentencing.

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