Solicitor, livestock dealer charged over €9m fraud
A FORMER solicitor and a livestock dealer have been remanded on bail for a month after being charged with theft and fraud offences involving more than €8.8m.
The two men appeared yesterday at Naas District Court in Co Kildare after they had been charged in the town earlier in the day by officers from the Garda National Fraud Bureau.
John Duffy (42), of Clogheen, Monasterevin, Co Kildare, and Anthony McAuliffe (69), of French Furze, Kildare town, were both charged that on March 6, 2007, they had dishonestly obtained a loan of €8,825,000 from Investec Bank (UK) Ltd (Irish Branch) by deception within the State with the intention of making a gain for themselves or for others.
The charge stated that the loan had been made out in favour of French Furze Holdings Ltd, contrary to section 7 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.
They both faced a second charge that they had dishonestly appropriated the money without the consent of its owner, Investec Bank.
Judge Desmond Zaidan remanded the two men on their own bail of €10,000 each to November 5, on condition that they surrender their passports and do not attempt to obtain any other travel documents.
Det Sgt Pat Lenehan, of the Garda National Fraud Bureau, told the court that he had arrested Mr Duffy in Naas at 9.49am yesterday. When he put the charges to him, Mr Duffy replied that he was not guilty.
Det Sgt Lenehan said the accused was a former solicitor and had acted for a client, who had obtained the money from Investec Ltd to purchase land.
He said it was a reasonably complex case in which two companies had been set up to dupe the bank to loan €8.8m to purchase land and one of the conditions of the loan was that there would be a third party buyer and a €7m deposit, which never existed.
He also said that legal documents had been sent to the bank to show that a contract existed for the sale of the land to a third-party buyer.
Det Sgt Lenehan said the bank would never have loaned the money if the €7m deposit had not existed.
The court heard that Mr Duffy had lost his legal practice, had gone from the family home and he had a limited income.
Det Gda Eamon Kelly, also of the fraud bureau, said he arrested Mr McAuliffe at 10.03am in Naas and when the first charge was put to him, Mr McAuliffe said that on the day he sought the loan, a buyer had existed.
In response to the second charge, he had replied "no".
He said Mr McAuliffe was the applicant for the loan and he had purported to be a dealer of livestock.Replying to the judge, Det Gda Kelly said Mr McAuliffe was not a dealer in any significant way.
Mr McAuliffe, who was not represented in court, said he was retired and had a pension of €225 a week.
He was granted legal aid by Judge Zaidan.
The court heard that the charges would be tried before a jury and that a third defendant, who was currently ill, was expected to appear before the court on November 5.