Wednesday 13 December 2017

Pictured: The businessmen accused of being behind 'fraudulent forestry investment scheme'

Garret Hevey (right) is also accused of having just under €2m in crime proceeds in bank account

David Piele (left) and Garret Hevey (right)
David Piele (left) and Garret Hevey (right)

Andrew Phelan

A businessman has been accused of having just under €2 million in crime proceeds in a bank account after directing an allegedly fraudulent forestry investment scheme.

Garret Hevey (41) was director of a company that gardai allege issued false documentation for forestry sites in Ireland to investors, a court heard.

He appeared at an evening sitting of Dublin District Court charged with deception and possession of criminal proceeds.

Judge Michael Walsh granted him bail at €25,000 under strict conditions, and remanded him in custody until he takes up bail.

Mr Hevey, of Brookdene, Shankill in south Co Dublin is charged with possession of €1.982 million, the proceeds of crime, at AIB Bank, George’s Street, Dun Laoaghire on June 13 last.

The father-of-one is also charged with deceiving an investor, Kari Wahlstrom into paying over STG£52,000 at the same bank on February 23 2016.

Mr Hevey is the second man to be charged by gardai investigating the alleged fraud. A co-accused, David Piele (40), was granted bail earlier today when he appeared in court charged with deception.

This evening, Inspector Cathrina Gunne of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said she arrested the accused at his home address at 7.35am yesterday.

He was brought to Dun Laoghaire Garda Station, where his detention period was extended a number of times, as authorised by a garda superintendent.

He was released from custody at 3.25pm today and charged. He made no reply to either count after caution.

Insp Gunne objected to bail, citing the strength of the proposed evidence and her belief that there was a “strong possibility the accused would not stand trial and would evade justice” if granted bail.

She said the accused was director and shareholder of Arden Forestry Management Ltd and opened up a company bank account in AIB Dun Laoghaire in January 2014. He was a beneficiary along with another named individual, she said.

It was alleged that investors in Arden transferred large sums of money directly into the account and believed they were investing in a legitimate business, Insp Gunne continued.

They were furnished with what they believed were legitimate folios, timber certificates and management contracts for what they believed were legitimate forest sites, Insp Gunne said.

“It is alleged that all investors were furnished with false documentation,” she said.

The court heard that on June 13, 2016, there was €1,982,825 in the account.

In relation to the deception charge, it was alleged that Mr Wahlstrom invested £52,000 and received false documentation for the forest to say the company owned the “actual forest.”

Insp Gunne said gardai had a large volume of documentation to support their case. This was tied to the accused using an alias, she alleged.

There were emails to potential witnesses using the alias in what she believed was an attempt to interfere in the investigation, she said.

She said the maximum sentence for possession of proceeds of crime on indictment was 14 years.

Other grounds Insp Gunne cited were the possibility that the accused would dispose of illegally acquired property. She said there could be other accounts and funds that she was not aware of outside this jurisdiction.

Defence solicitor Dara Robinson said Mr Hevey had brought a successful application before the court last year to have living expenses released from the company account following a freezing order.

He had “made no bones” about his involvement in the company then, and “made no disguise himself or disguise his involvement in this venture.”

He had been living at his home address for the last nine years and had a mortgage on the house.

His wife and father were present in court. There was no photographic evidence to support the allegation he had an alias, Mr Robinson said.

The accused had put Arden Forestry into liquidation and had attended proceedings before the High Court. Mr Hevey is presumed innocent and “could hardly be more firmly rooted in the community,” Mr Robinson said.

Judge Walsh set bail at €5,000 with half to be lodged in cash. He also required an independent surety of €20,000, with half to be lodged in cash, or two sureties in half that amount each.

The accused must notify gardai of any change of address, be contactable by phone at all times, sign on at his local garda station three times per week and have no contact with any alleged injured parties.

He remanded the defendant in custody with consent to bail, to appear in Dublin District Court again on Thursday.

Mr Hevey, dressed in a black hooded jacket and blue jeans, remained silent throughout the bail hearing. He has not yet indicated how he intends to plead to the charges.

Earlier, David Piele (40), a UK National with an address at Rectory Way in Bray, Co Wicklow, was brought before Dun Laoghaire District Court where he was charged with one count of  deception.

Piele was charged with deceiving Kari Wahlstrom to the value of £52,000 sterling (aprox €60,000) at the AIB branch in Dun Laoghaire on February 23 last year.

Detective Garda Siobhan Moore of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) told the court that Piele made no reply when charged.

Mr Piele was granted bail despite garda objections and will appear in court again on March 21.

She said that as a UK National who frequently visited there, as well as Spain and other European destinations, he was a flight risk.

She also said that the investor who had made the complaint to gardai, had known him by the name David Marshall and that Piele had told Gardai he had used this name.

Det garda Moore also said the charges against the accused were of a serious nature and there was a possibility of further charges in the future.

Solicitor Michael Staines said his client had resided in Ireland knowing there was a garda investigation ongoing, and has a partner and two children here.

Bail was granted on condition of a lodgement of €5,000 cash and an independent surety of €5,000.

Mr Piele also has to sign-on at a garda station twice daily, surrender his passport, and not apply for any travel documents.

He also has to be contactable by mobile phone at all times.

Piele will appear in court again on March 21.

Online Editors

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News