Monday 27 January 2020

Fraud probes into 49 civil servants – but just one fired

Caroline Crawford

Just one civil servant has been sacked by the Department of Social Protection despite fraud investigations carried out into 49 staff in the past five years.

Sixteen of these probes against civil servants within the department are still under way.

Figures released to the Irish Independent reveal that just one employee was sacked and one other resigned before being dismissed in the same five-year period.

No action was considered necessary in the 31 remaining cases.

However, the department was unable to give details on how long the 16 outstanding investigations had been under way.

A spokesperson insisted that in any case of "substantiated fraud" it was the policy to seek dismissal.

In no circumstances would employees be censured or have their pay grade cut as an alternative to dismissal, the spokesperson added.

"The department has internal control procedures and guidelines.

"Where a staff member breaches these procedures, they are dealt with in accordance with the civil service disciplinary code, which can result in sanctions up to dismissal. Where appropriate, cases are referred to gardai," said the spokesperson.

The staff member was sacked in March after it was discovered that she had fraudulently diverted money into her own bank account and had awarded allowances to family members and friends.

The employee was found to be in breach of department rules on 13 occasions.

The most serious issue was the diversion of a person's jobseeker's allowance payments into her own back account.

The issues came to light last year after investigators discovered a number of irregularities.

The staff member met with senior officials in September of last year where she was told she was suspected of mishandling taxpayers' money and breaching guidelines.

Irish Independent

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